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Lee Jae Hwa - Geomgo Sanjo (Korean Classical Music)
YesAsia: 1003872419

A reminder to end 2004 of the untapped riches of the classical musics of remote parts of the world. During the last week of the year I was alerted by email to a programme of Korean music broadcast from London on Resonance (104.4 f.m).

Introduced by representatives of Musa Lusa, Atlantic Waves and Nori Productions, this was an interesting overview of traditional Korean instruments (kayagum, komungo, ajaeng, haegum, piri, taegum, and changgo) with examples of Korean court music, folk, new traditional, modern, improvised, etc.

Reception was excellent on the computer and also on our radio. The programme included a competition to identify a Korean composer well known in the West (Unsuk Chin). Since no listeners had phoned in until nearly the end of the programme, MusicalPointers did so and was awarded the prize!

That was a DVD/CD double with a substantial solo recital by Lee Jae Hwa, a virtuoso exponent of the gumongo, her national zither-type instrument which seems similar to the Japanese koto. The illustration is of the ancient geomungo; Lee Jae Hwa has an improved instrument, the hoehyeongeum, with four additional strings of twisted silk threads.

It is a generous production including a filmed concert with drum and supporting ensemble (playing in unison!). Behind the players is projected a film of a stately "crane dance" performed in the grounds of the School of Han Gap-deuk, a college campus which looked suprisingly English. (The filming and sound quality is satisfactory but the production is no more than adequate; the DVD tracks are not numbered and the latter two can only be accessed by 'fast forwarding', and the English translations need a little help; "crane" is spelt correctly on screen but not in the booklet).

Calming, meditative music, infinitely subtle and yielding its secrets slowly; definitely different! I wonder how many listeners had tuned in to the programme?

This CD/DVD and a wide range of Asian music can be purchased on line by English speaking musical explorers from YesAsia

Information on future Korean cultural events promoted in the UK by Nori Productions from, just send an email to mailto:nori4all@yahoo.com.

For new music on Korean instruments try Bamboo Silk and Stone (Randy Raine-Reusch on Korean kayageum etc)


© Peter Grahame Woolf