Event of the year so far has been the Changgeuk Trojan Women, in which Ahn Sook-sun played a significant part. I’m thinking this fourth concert in the 2018 K-music festival could be even better. Note the early start time. The event is preceded by a free talk.
Ahn Sook-sun: Heungbuga (흥부가)
Saturday 3 November 2018, 6pm | Buy tickets
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, England SE1 8XX
A rare opportunity to see Korea’s traditional opera sung by this legendary Korean pansori singer. Pansori is a way of sharing myths, folklore and drama through limitless and passionate vocal-lead music.
Ahn Sook-Sun has previously sung the complete canon of five pansori pieces in their entirety, including Chunhyangga, the most beloved of pansori that lasts a full 8 hours. She has been performing and winning awards internationally for decades.
For K-Music 2018, Ahn will sing the entire pansori entitled Heungbuga over the course of approximately three hours. Ahn will perform the piece with Kim Jun-soo, who in the summer of 2018 played the role of Helen in Trojan Women to a full-house at the opening of Southbank Centre’s LIFT Festival.
There are five surviving stories within Korea’s pansori tradition and Heungbuga is the most humorous and immediately enjoyable, depicting the lives of ordinary people and their trials and tribulations.
Greedy, rich Nolbu has inherited his parents’ house and land and banished his poor but good-hearted brother Heungbu, leaving the brother with nothing but a large family to support. One day, Heungbu finds a swallow with a broken leg. He cares for the bird, who repays this kindness by bringing Heungbu a gourd seed to plant. When the seed bears fruit, it is full of treasure. Upon hearing of this, the unscrupulous Nolbu is overcome with jealousy and breaks the swallow’s leg, hoping for his own reward. Nolbu receives a gourd seed too, but finds that it is full of goblins…
‘If you listen to the finest work of pansori, you can feel your heart stop beating. Pansori isn’t just about singing – the word “sori” means “sound” in Korean. If you listen to pansori closely, even though the audience may not understand the language, they can feel the emotion of the pansori singer expressed through sound and human breath’ (Ahn Sook-Sun)
‘In pansori, the intimacy, the translation, the audience and the ambience are just as important as the music. When all that comes together, pansori really is one of the world’s great musical art forms.’ (Simon Broughton/Songlines)
Joe Boyd talks Pansori
Queen Elizabeth Foyer, 4.30pm, FREE
Joe Boyd is a record producer and writer. He worked with Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, REM, John Martyn, Olivia Chaney, and a host more of the world’s expressive and passionate artists. His enthusiasm for Bulgarian singing is well-known, but now K-Music 2018 is pleased to out him as a secret pansori lover. He says ‘Pansori is as rich and earthy as flamenco or blues, with lyrics that are as poetic as either of those forms’, and before Ahn Sook-Sun’s performance, he will be talking about why pansori is such an enthralling artform.
Admission to this pre-concert talk is free and there’s no advance booking – just come along.