For many LKL followers, the highlight of the City of London Festival this year will be the performance by Ensemble Sinawi at LSO St Luke’s on 8 July. If you liked Geomungo Factory at the K-Music festival last year, or have caught Baramgot on one of their London performances, this evening’s performance will be a treat. And you can catch them the following evening, too, at SOAS in a performance / workshop event.
The ensemble name themselves after a type of instrumental ensemble originally used to accompany the shaman ritual (gut) of the southern region of the Korean peninsula. Sinawi is an improvisational genre based on fixed melodic mode and rhythmic patterns in which the musical creativity comes from the spontaneity of the improvisational skills of the individual musicians. Although this genre is very much improvisational and all instruments are not in unison, they make incredible harmony in dissonance. Thus, the music of Sinawi is often described as “harmonious discord” or “chaotic order.”
Ensemble Sinawi’s exploration of Korea’s musical heritage led them to discover the tremendous expressive potential in adapting traditional rhythms and melodies to create new and authentically Korean improvisational musical forms. Drawing inspiration from the ecstatic rhythms of pungmul (a farmer’s percussion band) and gut (a shaman ritual) and the impassioned melodies of pansori (an operatic sung drama) and sanjo (an instrumental improvisational genre), Ensemble Sinawi crafted a musical bridge from old Korean traditional music to jazz.
According to their press materials,
Ensemble Sinawi’s collective musical vision challenges the convention of “fusion” and “crossover” music. There is nothing forced or artificial here, only passion and extraordinary creativity. The rhythms and melodies you hear are the same as those that have been practiced by improvising Korean musicians for generations while the song lyrics all come from either classical poetry or pansori. The stunning juxtaposition of authentic Korean sounds within the context of a chamber-jazz performance provides a dynamic and exciting encounter with an extraordinary new form of traditional music for the 21st century. In 2011, they released their first album, “Cadenza for Soul,” in 2012 released the 2nd album “Into the Time.” They are making remarkable achievements by composing concerto for orchestra and collaborating with various genres such as Jazz, Dance, Theatre, and Media Art to extend the way of communication with other contemporary artists. Ensemble Sinawi awarded the Best Prize of Korean Traditional Music by KBS(Korean Broadcasting Station) in 2012. And they have been performing on global stage over 10 countries including Lincoln Center in NY.
Ensemble Sinawi perform at LSO St Lukes on 8 July at 7:30pm. Book tickets here.