K-music 2021: the official press release

Last year, despite the lockdown, the K-music festival presented is with a huge range of talent via its online concerts. Many of the acts that we heard for the first time last year will now be making their way over to London (and Norwich) so that we can experience them live. There’s a real feast in store.

K-music 2021

6 October – 17 November 2021
K-music 2021

Weds 6 OctADG7, Kings Place (Hall 1)
Sun 17 OctKYUNGSO PARK & SOONA PARK with ANGHARAD JENKINS, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
Fri 22 + Sat 23 OctDONGYANG GOZUPA + SINNOI, Coronet Theatre Notting Hill
Thurs 28 OctBLACK STRING & NGUYÊN LÊ, Grand Junction Paddington
Sat 6 NovDAL:UM, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
Weds 17 NovSOOJIN SUH COLORIS TRIO & CAMILLA GEORGE, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre (part of the EFG London Jazz Festival)

“South Korea is in the midst of a cultural golden age, so it is no surprise that K-Music 2020 had a superabundance of musical riches” SONGLINES

London’s Festival of Korean music returns this autumn for full-capacity live shows, bringing exciting new talent from Korea to venues across London.

Internationally known and loved band ADG7 will open the festival – their explosive pop-rock cabaret and shamanic folk songs from western North Korea kicking off the rich and eclectic mix of concerts at K-Music 2021.

Next is a fascinating meeting between South and North Korea and Wales. Kyungso Park and Soona Park, two gayageum masters (12-stringed zither), one rooted in the south and the other in the north of Korea, will perform together for the first time with Welsh fiddler and singer Angharad Jenkins for an intriguing encounter between Eastern and Western strings.

In a double bill, trio Dongyang Gozupa combine trail-blazing percussion with the yanggeum (metal-stringed zither) and quartet Sinnoi, featuring the extraordinary vocals of Bora Kim, perform their entirely unique sound by the melding of ancient shamanic music with minimalism, jazz and electronica.

K-Music favourite, Black String, return to London to mark their 10th anniversary with old friend, the masterful jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê, playing music from their highly-acclaimed collaborative album ‘Karma’ on ACT Records.

Working together with the National Theatre of Korea, K-Music presents duo Dal:um, who explore the ethereal soundscape of gayageum and geomungo (silk-stringed zither), and whose debut album ‘Similar and Different’ was released on Glitterbeat in June this year.

The final concert in the festival features one of Korea’s leading experimental drummers Soojin Suh leading her new trio Coloris and Nigerian-born, London-based saxophonist Camilla George as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

ADG7 | Kings Place (Hall One) | Weds 6 October

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ADG7’s powerful performances draw on the sacred shamanic and secular ritual music and folk songs of the Hwanghaedo region in western North Korea, adding elements of pop-rock and funk. They are a nine-member band of flute, zithers, percussion and three sensational vocalists, “capable of powering a medium-sized city by charisma alone” (Songlines). ADG7 will perform music from both their debut album ‘Ak Dan Gwang Chil’ and their recent album ‘Such is Life’.

Hyun Soo Kim (daeguem/bamboo flute), Hyerim Park (ajaeng/zither), Meondongmaru Weon (gayageum), Hyang Hee Lee (saenghwang/free reed mouth organ), Hyunjun Chun, Jinyoung Sunwoo (percussion) and Hong Ok, Wol Seon, Meong Wol (vocals).

“‘Such is Life’ is a treat….one of the most imaginative albums of the year” SONGLINES

“A most astonishing show musically and immensely entertaining” Bob Boilen, NPR Music

Kyungso Park & Soona Park with Angharad Jenkins |Purcell Room | Sun 17 October

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Gayageum master and composer Kyungso Park moves freely between Korean traditional and contemporary music, pushing boundaries in her many ground-breaking collaborations with artists around the world. Since her debut as a soloist in 2008 she has been endeavoring to contemporize the long tradition of the gayageum, releasing seven albums, including Cosmo Breeze (2008), This Is Not Gayageum (Dung-tta, 2012), and The Most Beautiful Connection (2015). Here she returns to the festival to play for the first time with Welsh fiddler and singer Angharad Jenkins and gayageum player from North Korea, Soona Park.

Taught to play the gayageum by top traditional music masters in North Korea, Soona Park’s music is influenced by North and South Korea as well as Japan. She is known for her distinctive playing style: “based on a fast and dynamic sound ..characterised by flamboyant techniques” (Korea Art TV).

Composer and fiddle player Angharad Jenkins is from Mumbles, near Swansea in Wales. She is a founding member of the folk group Calan and her highly innovative and experimental approach to music has also led to work with poets, artists and on theatre projects. This meeting of Korean strings and Western fiddle promises to be enthralling.

Dongyang Gozupa + Sinnoi | The Coronet Theatre Notting Hill |Fri 22 + Thurs 23 October

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Dongyang Gozupa (whose name translates as “eastern high frequency”) is a trio of percussion, bass and yanggeum. They are a hard-hitting combination of progressive post-rock and the psychedelic possibilities of the yanggeum – an experience that is “intense, powerful, beautiful and colourful” (Womex). Dohyuk Jang (percussion), Eunhwa Yun (yanggeum) and Minhwi Ham (bass).

The second half of the concert features Sinnoi, who bring together shamanic music, minimalism, jazz, electronic sound and pansori – melding deeply travelled resonances with the new. Led by the celestial vocals of Bora Kim, “her flawless voice gliding between the purest of high tones and animalistic growls” (Songlines), and joined by co-founder and renowned jazz bassist Wonsool Lee, Sinnoi has recently teamed up with new members: electronic sound artist and producer Go Dam and geomungo player Jeong-Seok Lee from Geomungo Factory, who stormed the first edition of the K-Music festival.

“just watch this unique band become a live and viral cult presence across the globe in the next decade…..and check their latest album ‘The New Path’ – I can’t stop listening to it” Max Reinhardt (Soho Radio)

Black String & Nguyên Lê | Grand Junction Paddington | Thurs 28 October

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ACT artists Black String performed at K-Music in 2011 and 2019 and their highly-acclaimed international debut ‘Mask Dance’ won a Songlines Music Award in 2018. Masters of Korean traditional music combined with jazz and free improvisation, Black String return to the festival to celebrate their 10th anniversary and will be joined by French/Vietnamese jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê to perform music from their album, ‘Karma’.

Award-winning guitarist Nguyen Le has written movie scores and performed with John McLaughlin, Ornette Coleman, Dhafer Youssef, Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock and Korean singer Youn Sun Nah. His collaborative albums include a personal version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as well as the award-winning Karma with Black String.

“Nguyên Lê is a masterful, inventive player who has cultivated a wholly unique voice on the instrument. He ranks right up there with Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Mike Stern and Allan Holdsworth in the post Hendrix world of jazz guitar” (JazzTimes)

Dal:um | Purcell Room, Southbank Centre | Sat 6 November
Norwich Arts Centre | Mon 8 November

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K-Music joins forces with the National Theatre of Korea for the first time to present Dal:um, a musical duo featuring two zithers, the gayageum (played by Ha Suyean) and geomungo (played by Hwang Hyeyoung). Despite their apparent similarity, the two instruments are different in structure, playing techniques and tone colour and Dal:um demonstrate this in creating music that is expansive and otherworldy – a compelling soundscape that treasures subtle dynamics and the space between the notes. Their album ‘Similar and Different’ was released on Glitterbeat earlier this year.

Soojin Suh Coloris Trio & Camilla George | Purcell Room, Southbank Centre | Weds 17 November

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Soojin Suh is one of Korea’s leading experimental drummers – she began studying music at the age of 5 and is a graduate of the City College of New York. She has released four albums: ‘The Moon in Your Hand’, ‘Strange Liberation’, ‘Colorist’ and ‘Embrace’, and in April this year, ‘Roots to Branches’. Following her K-Music 2020 collaboration with fellow ECM artist Kit Downes, she and her Coloris trio now join up with London-based saxophone player, composer and improviser Camilla George for a truly unforgettable evening of sounds from across the globe. Coloris work dynamically to blend their ‘melodic breath’, a principal concept from Korean traditional music, adding their arrangements and improvisations and using the pulse of the melody to take each player’s role beyond traditional composition. Soojin Suh (drums), Young Hoo Kim (bass) and Jaehun Kang (piano).

MOBO-nominated Nigerian born saxophonist Camilla George fuses African and Western sounds to create a blend of Afrofuturism, hip hop and jazz. A star of the renowned Jazz Jamaica, she has since gone on to release two albums to great critical acclaim: ‘Isang’ and ‘The People Could Fly’. Her music is warm yet authoritative, relaxed yet imaginative. This is the perfect place for a unique collaboration of Korea with the “the golden girl of jazz” (Evening Standard), performing within the EFG London Jazz Festival.

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