“Thinking of My Brother,” “The Leaf Boat,” “The Orchard Trail,” “Dear Mom, Dear Sis”… Korea’s children songs have been reimagined with the colorful sounds of orchestra. The Korean Symphony Orchestra has released a new album of children’s songs called “The Spring of Hometown” (pictured).
The album contains 16 songs that span 100 years in time from the ones that sang about the pain of losing a country during the Japanese occupation to some of the latest children songs in the 2000s such as “Will Hug You” and “A Spoonful of Soybean Paste.” Conductor Jung Chi-yong took the baton, with Soprano Lim Seon-hye, Tenor John Noh, Pianist Moon Jung-jae, and harmonica player Park Jong-seong taking parts in the performance. The songs have been arranged by six emerging Korean composers such as Kim Tae-soo, Na Sil-in, Park Yong-bin, Ahn Sung-min, Oh Eun-cheol, and Lee Yong-seok, who have been active everywhere from the traditional orchestra to theaters and broadcasts.
The first song “Thinking of My Brother” evokes the sentiment of dreamy spring, instantly filling the air with a scent of grass. The different sounds of a variety of instruments are accentuated in each song, with the chords breaking the mold to take on a unique scent of their own.
The Spring of Hometown, which was arranged by Kim Taek-soo, offers an exotic interpretation of the second verse like the melody from a baroque aria. The song has been further embroidered with Soprano Lim Seon-hye’s signature whistle. “The Sunset,” which was arranged by Lee Yong-seok, starts off with the dreamy sound of a horn before handing it over to trumpets and clarinets, instantly transporting audience before a mesmerizing scenery of real-life sunset.
All in all, the arrangement focuses on offering a “new experience” for the audience rather than the “familiarity” to sing along. The harmonica in “Thinking of My Brother,” “The Orchard Trail,” and “Island Baby” provokes the nostalgia of Korea’s modern times. Orchestra-only tracks have been for “The Face” and “The Star.”
“Our album is designed to express the power of comfort and healing that children’s songs have for those who are going through a hard time under the pandemic,” the Korean Symphony Orchestra explained. We’ve tried to convey the pure sentiment and warmth in the songs through our orchestra sound.”