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K-music 2017 – an introduction to this year’s programme

K music 17 banner

This year’s K-music festival is the biggest yet, with nine concerts lined up for the series, and with only one act which could be described as from the mainstream indie world, the programme promises to be the most interesting yet.

As is fitting in the year of UK-Korea cultural collaboration, many of the concerts this year feature collaboration between Korean and Western artists. The festival opens at the Union Chapel with a dialogue between Black String – voted Best Jazz & Crossover Performance at the 2017 Korean Music Awards – and Kathryn Tickell, the British violinist and Northumbrian piper.

Kathryn Tickell and Black String
Kathryn Tickell and Black String – the opening concert

As a write this, her 1986 album Bordlerlands is playing on my turntable (yes, I kept a lot of my vinyl) and I’m wondering what will come out of her project with the Korean fusion band whose 2016 album Mask Dance she described as “intense and compelling – vast soundscapes, full of strange noises – alien, yet full of humanity”. For their part, Black String members are used to working with musicians from other traditions: Heo Yoon-Jeong (Geomungo), Lee Aram (Daegeum) and Jean Oh (guitar) worked with British saxophonist Tim Garland as part of the London Jazz Festival in 2012 (LKL review here)

Another major collaboration is between geomungo player Woojae Park, British Indian composer / sarod player Soumik Datta and Japanese percussionist Shogo Yoshii, a member of the taiko ensemble Kodo. Park’s own music is innovative and exciting, and the evening at Rich Mix will appeal to audiences beyond traditional and world music.

Hyelim + Alice
Alice Zawadzki (left) with Hyelim Kim

Daegeum player Hyelim Kim is another musician who is known for her collaborations, including Australian jazz drummer Simon Barker and the experimental jazz ensemble Notes Inegales. She is working with violinist / vocalist Alice Zawadzki in a partnership that will see its fruition at the Vortex. They gave us an early taste of what to expect at the K-music launch event at the KCC earlier this week.

Two singers from the minyo and pansori traditions feature in other concerts. The Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall, which last year hosted the wonderful collaboration between Kyungso Park and Andy Sheppard (LKL review here), is where Heemoon Lee will be performing with jazz ensemble Prelude. And at Rich Mix the world music band AUX, featuring traditional instruments alongside modern ones, support the energetic singer Eun Kyung Min in a style which has been called Psychedelic pansori-rock. What’s not to like?

Other concerts feature harmonica legend Jeduk Jeon in partnership with jazz / flamenco guitarist Juwon Park; more pansori from Eunhye Jung partnered with opera singers for an East-meets-West recital; and an evening of smiles and sun from the nine-piece ska band Kingston Rudieska. The festival finishes with the haunting sounds of Jiha Park’s album Communion at King’s Place.

Park Jiha
Jiha Park gives the final concert in the series

Read the official press release here. The dates for your diary are as follows; the links contain videos where you can sample some of the music.

Date Venue Performers
15 Sep Union Chapel Black String + Kathryn Tickell
24 Sep Elgar Room Heemoon Lee + Prelude
27 Sep Pizza Express Soho Jeduk Jeon + Juwon Park
2 Oct Vortex Hyelim Kim + Alice Zawadzki
9 Oct Rich Mix Woojae Park + Soumik Datta + Shogo Yoshii
11 Oct King’s Place Korean Sounds: Eunhye Jung + Keonwoo Kim + Lauren Fagan
17 Oct Rich Mix AUX
23 Oct Borderline Kingston Rudieska
25 Oct King’s Place Jiha Park: Communion


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