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World Notes

Posted September. 07, 2006 06:48,   


“People who perform Sori (a Korean traditional performance of voice and music) should not be relegated to a museum piece. Whether in Korea or overseas we should visit those who listen to us, and make them feel a sense of joy. That is what we should do.”

Virtuoso Ahn Suk-seon (photo) attended the international world music festival WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance) held in Sicily in July. Performing jointly several times a year with foreign musicians, she is a singer that appeals the world over with a most Korean voice.

Held on September 16-24 at the Sori Arts Center in Jeonju, South Jeolla Province, the fifth Jeonju Sori Festival (led by Ahn Suk-seon, art director Gwak Byung-chang) aims to reproduce the original Korean pansori while transforming it into world music that can be appreciated internationally.

This festival will host SORI-WOMAD by linking with WOMAD for the first time. Debuting in Great Britain in 1982, WOMAD has performed 150 times in 24 countries around the world, and has established itself as a festival that recreates the folk music in a modern way.

The fir tree forest where this year’s Jeonju Sori Festival is held has 100-tent villages of “Se, Jung, Gut Sori Camp.” It is the first time to integrate an internationally popular music camp festival with a Korean music festival. Youth around the world camp together and experience Korea’s beat, pansori, chuimsaes, and dance movements with professional teachers.

The main performance will include a floor for pansori and a floor that will allow the audience to compare the different traditions of the five episodes of the pansoris. This year the pansori Heungboga, which has five episodes, will be performed for five days. Exhibitions and performances on deceased virtuosos will also be displayed in “Korea’s Great Soris,” where the first will be Manjung Kim So-hee (1917-1995).

The highlight of this year’s festival is the SORI-WOMAD Festival (September 22-24), where world music artists from 11 countries and Korean musicians will perform together. Ahn Suk-seon will perform the voice of women with international vocalists including Tibet’s Yungchen Lhamo, South Africa’s Mahotella Queens, and Cameroon’s Coco Mbassi.

Kim Un-tae, a virtuoso at the Chaesang Sogo Dance, and the percussionist Choi So-ri will perform with Yelemba D’abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) and Joji Hirota (Japan) in the impromptu percussion jam performance “Drum Collective,” while the Haegeum player Kang Eun-il will perform string instruments at “String Workshop” jointly with N’Faly Kouyate (Guinea) and Amzad Ali Khan (India).

Ahn said, “Last time I performed ‘Sugungga’ accompanied by the European jazz group ‘Red Sun’ and released an album titled ‘The Story of a Rabbit.’ When I saw the saxophone player perform the pansori, I realized that music transcends boundaries.”

The art director Gwak Byung-chang of the Jeonju Sori Festival said, “Traditional music that has evolved into world music, such as Portugal’s padu, Argentina’s tango, and African jazz has influenced each other and succeeded in modernization,” and added, “We will work toward establishing Korea’s pansori as another form of world music through WOMAD, which possesses a global network.”