The lunar new year came to a girls school in New Malden yesterday with more than a few bangs. Samulnori percussion group Dulsori visited Coombe Girls School in Clarence Avenue for a spectacular one hour concert in front of an enthusiastic audience of pupils and visitors — including the mayor of Kingston.
The audience didn’t need much persuasion to cheer, clap and generally provide encouragement to the performers: as ever, the energy of Dulsori was catching, and the atmosphere was probably helped along by half-term high spirits. The applause reached its climax when the group’s leader took off his top to reveal a well-honed torso to rival Rain’s.
The afternoon started with Dulsori members parading into the school hall in their full regalia, including the twirling head-ribbons and tassels; and there then followed the obligatory five minutes working the audience.
The real business of the afternoon began when the four members climbed onto the stage where their full array of percussion awaited them. Until you experience it, the prospect of 45 minutes pretty much non-stop percussion doesn’t sound very appealing. But the power and energy of the performance, together with the obvious enjoyment of the players themselves always proves infectious. And there was the added variety of a couple of folk songs (one of which requested audience participation). All of which meant that the event came to an end all too soon.
I was a little bit concerned that there might be some obligatory Korean new year’s games, such as the carpet rolling game, after the show. Such games are fine between consenting adults or between innocents, but having learned a new word this week — wongjogyoje — I was relieved when guests were invited to leave and the pupils were kept behind for a bit of half term admin.
Dulsori’s efforts were well appreciated. While the student body contained some Koreans in their midst (around 5-10% I would estimate), a full-on presentation of a Korean cultural experience seemed to go down well with everyone in the audience.
In the morning, Dulsori had been working hard at another school in New Malden, the Holy Cross girls school in Sandal Road, where they gave classes in Korean drumming and dancing. A great bit of cultural outreach to mark the start of the Year of the Fire Pig.
- Dulsori website