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EXPLOREPerforming Arts


Voices of Korea: A Lunar New Year’s Celebration & Petit Concert

Join us for Voices of Korea, a special Petit Concert program to ring in the Lunar New Year with a showcase of fantastic Korean traditional vocal music! Capturing the spirit that brings a hopeful start to each new year, three masters will present a variety of iconic performance art including the musical storytelling of pansori, classical minyo folk songs from regions across Korea, and the self-accompaniment of vocalist performing on the 12-stringed zither in Gayageum Byungchang.


Eun Su Kim and members of Washington Sorichung based in Virginia will perform alongside Oh Jung Hee, yisuja master of Korea’s Important Intangible Cultural Asset Gayageum Byungchang, and Ji-ah Ha, yisuja master of Gyeonggi Minyo folk music and member of the National Traditional Music Center in Korea.


Start the year off right with the unmistakable energy of Voices of Korea!


WHAT: Musical Concert & Reception

WHO: Jung Hee Oh, Ji-ah Ha, Eunsu Kim, and Washington Sorichung

WHEN: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 6:30p.m. – 8:00p.m.

WHERE: Korean Cultural Center Washington, D.C. (2370 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC)

CONTACT: Hyemee Baik, culturedc@mofa.go.kr or 202-587-6152

Thank you for your interest in this Korean Cultural Center event! Due to strong interest, this event is now at full capacity and no longer accepting RSVPs. We appreciate your support and understanding. Join our mailing list to receive upcoming event announcements HERE. Thank you!


Pansori: Dan-ga

Minyo Medley
Gayageum Sanjo

Gayageum Byungchang: Sae-Taryeong(Bird Song)

Pansori: Mango-Kangsan

Gayageum Byungchang: Jae-bi-no-jung-gi


[About the Music]


Pansori is an oral tradition that arose in the 18th century in Korea as a musical drama performed by a vocal soloist (gwangdae) and accompanying drummer (gosu). The etymology of pansori can be explained as pan, meaning a gathering place, and sori, meaning sound or song. Only five complete pansori epics are known and still performed today,some of which require five hours or more for a complete telling, comprising many memorable scenes. In a traditional presentation, the gwangdae comes to embody the entire story, its characters, and emotions, presenting these through vocal arias, recitation, physical gestures,and spoken text, all the while interacting with the rhythmic accompaniment. The gosu often participates in the drama by providing spoken words of encouragement.


Minyo Medley presents some of the many variations of Arirang,Korea’s most famous and beloved folk song.“Arirang” is an ancient native Korean word with no direct modern meaning. There are about 3,600 variations the song, each imbued with the characteristics of the local province. Koreans have long stated their identity and expressed their feelings through Arirang, which encapsulates a bittersweet emotion of longing and hope. The versions presented here originate from Milyang, Kangwon, and Jindo provinces.


Sanjo, literally meaning “scattered melodies”, is a style of traditional Korean music involving an instrument also lo accompanied by drumming on the janggu,an hourglass-shaped drum. Sanjo originated from the music of Korea’s indigenous shaman culture, which is filled with Korean spirit and sentiment. Many Koreans strongly identify with this music, which grew to be the greatest instrumental genre of the 19th century. It also adopted elements and stylistic features from court and folk music traditions, coming to reflect a pan-musical style that is quintessentially Korean.


Gayageum Byungchang is essentially a duet between one vocalist and the instrument they perform, a 12-string zither known as the gayageum. The genre is known to stem from gayageum masters who were also adept at pansori. The gayageum is used as a heartbeat in Gayageum Byungchang, regulating and punctuating the rhythm of the vocal song, while emphasizing important notes and melodies. The instrument also marks the beginning and the end of each rhythmic cycle, filling in for the voice during interludes.


Sae-Taryeong(Bird Song), Among the folk songs of Korea’s Jeolla Province in the Southwest, Sae-Taryeong and Jindo Arirang are considered to be the most iconic. Sae-Taryeong depicts various birds singing on a sunny, spring day, using onomatopoetic sounds and elegant gestures. These birds include the phoenix, cuckoo, peacock, parrot, and pheasant, among others. The origin of this piece is unknown, but it became popular after it was revised and included in the Pansori repertory in Jeokbyeok-ga (Song of the Red Cliff)during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty.


Jae-Bi-No-Jung-Gi is a passage from the popular pansori Heungbo-ga. It tells the story of Heungbo, who fixes a swallow’s broken leg and is magically rewarded with fantastic wealth. This is the most popular song in the gayageum byungchang genre, portraying a fun journey with a fast rhythm as the swallow is flying to Heungbo’s house.


[About the Performers]


Jung Hee Oh (Gayageum / Vocalist)

Jung Hee Oh is a Korean traditional vocal performing artist specializing in Gayageum Byungchang and pansori. Upon graduating from Chung-Ang University in Korea, Ms. Oh immigrated to the United States and has since been actively performing, including with the Korean Performing Art Center, Korea Society in New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. She has appeared in numerous TV musical programs, live concerts, and festivals around the world. She was trained under leading pansori artist Sook-Sun An, and has been certified as a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Korea No. 23 (Gayageum Sanjo and Gayageum Byungchang). She has also taught at Sangmyung University and Seoul Arts University, as well as at the Korean Performing Arts Center in Manhattan.


Ji-ah Ha (Minyo Vocalist)

Ji-ah Ha is a member of the Gyeonggi Province Korean National Gugak Center and a yisuja holder of Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Korea No. 57 (Gyeonggi Minyo). She graduated from Korea National University of Arts (B.A. and Master’s) majoring in traditional vocals. She has lectured at the National Junior and High Schools of Traditional Arts. She received the 2nd Gold Prize at the National Traditional Music Competition of Gyeonggi Province in 2003, the Grand Prize for the 12th Seoul Traditional Performing Arts Contest in 2004, and 2nd Prize at the 21st KBS Korean Traditional Music Competition in 2011.


Eun Su Kim (Vocalist)

Eun Su Kim was born and raised in Suwon, Korea. At an early age she studied pansori under Young-JaKim, an Important Intangible cultural Asset holder for traditional singing. Ms.Kim graduated from Seoul Korean Culture High School and Seoul Art University,going on to intern and perform at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and at the National Theater of Korea. She started her career in the United States in 2007 when she founded Washington Sorichung Korean Traditional Music Institute, based in Virginia. She has since performed at numerous events including at the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Kennedy Center, and Embassy of the Republic of Korea, among others. Director Kim has performed with Korea’s recognized human cultural assets, professors, and many other noted performers. She has performed in the Dominican Republic, New York,California, New Jersey, and various major universities, where she has also held numerous workshops. Director Kim regularly hosts guest artist workshops at her institute that open to the public. She currently manages Sorichung Enterprise LLC, Washington Sorichung, and Soricha Tea and Theater. She is also Director of Cultural Affairs for the Korean American Association of the Washington Metropolitan Area.


Washington Sorichung is an organization dedicated to the cultivation of Korean classical music and other Korean traditional arts. Founded in 2007 by Eun Su Kim with branches in Fairfax and Virginia Beach, its mission is to promote Korean traditional musician the Capital metro region area through education, performances, and cultural enrichment programs. This mission extends to Americans with an interest in Korea, Koreans living in the United States, and the children of Korean immigrants who wish to rediscover their heritage. As part of the U.S. School Tour Project, Sorichung has visited schools to bring primary, secondary, and university students the experience of Korean traditional singing, instruments,and dancing. Sorichung also builds on American students’ prior knowledge of Korean culture by providing similar enrichment programs at Taekwondo academies in the region and collaborates with cultural associations in the Korean immigrant community. Sorichung also offers courses in Korean singing with an emphasis on Korean language acquisition. For young adult Koreans and Korean-Americans,Sorichung has partnered with Korean Student Associations at universities around the country including Bergan Community College, William’s College, Georgetown University and the George Washington University.