We’re excited at the line-up for this autumn’s K-Music Festival. Here are the full details, with links to the individual gig notices.
K-MUSIC FESTIVAL 2022: Korea across London this autumn
Wednesday 5 October – Thursday 24 November 2022
This autumn, as an exhibition ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ opens at the V&A, the K-Music Festival, now in its ninth year, presents a musical response to that. The word hallyu (meaning ‘The South Korean Wave’) refers to the phenomenal growth of the dynamic popular culture that has come out of Korea – music, movies, TV dramas, fashion, online games, cuisine – since the late 1990s and is having a huge and ever-growing impact and influence across the globe. The K-Music Festival shows us a world beyond K-Pop – it encompasses the originality and dynamism of hallyu with a line-up of artists that use traditional Korean music to find new directions in sound, taking it into electronica, jazz, heavy rock and progressive post-rock – and new twists on ancient art forms.
This year’s line-up includes a collaboration between duos Dal:um and ReMidas on gayageum, and geomungo (zithers); a pansori version of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ by Jaram Lee; hardcore rock trio PAKK who join up with EERU (formerly Lee Il-woo) of Jambinai for ‘Silent Exorcism’; the incredible genre-defying Dongyang Gozupa; Amsterdam-based jazz drummer Sun Mi Hong and finally Park Jiha who, on piri (oboe), saenghwang (mouth organ) and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), presents gorgeously meditative music from her critically acclaimed recent album ‘The Gleam’ (tak:til/Glitterbeat).
DAL:UM & REMIDAS
Wednesday 5 October: Milton Court, Barbican 7.30pm | More details
Dal:um, who made their London debut at the Purcell Room last year, open the festival with an intriguing new collaboration with duo ReMidas to create a string quartet of zithers, the gayageum and the geomungo. Despite their similarity, these two instruments are surprisingly different in structure, playing technique and tone. This collaboration was commissioned and created for the Yeewoorak Festival in Seoul this summer and is presented in association with the National Theatre of Korea.
Dal:um is a Seoul-based musical duo that challenges the sonic possibilities of the gayageum (played by Ha Suyean) and geomungo (played by Hwang Hyeyoung). Their debut album ‘Similar & Different’ (the title also refers to gayageum and the geomungo) was released in June 2021 on Glitterbeat’s label imprint tak:til, also home to Park Jiha.
Ji Hyun Park (the leader of Hey String) has joined forces with Min Young Kim to form ReMidas and they explore timbres expressed through improvisation. They released an album, ESSENTIAL in 2021.
JARAM LEE: ‘The Old Man And The Sea’
Sunday 9 October: Southbank Centre/Purcell Room, 8pm | More details
Leading pansori singer and performer Jaram Lee presents ‘The Old Man And The Sea’, inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s classic story. Pansori is the ancient art of expressive musical storytelling where a singer is accompanied by a drummer and performs a narrative that can be tragic or funny – always entertaining. It is thought to have originated in southwest Korea in the seventeenth century as a new expression of the narrative songs of shamans.
Jaram Lee studied under legendary masters Hee-jin Eun, Jeong-suk Oh and Soon Sub Song, and has gone on to develop as a writer and composer of modern pansori pieces including The Good Woman of Szechuan, based on the work by Bertolt Brecht, which she went on to perform to sell out shows across the world, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2012.
“…Jaram Lee shows that pansori is the hottest performance genre in Korea…” NEWSIS
PAKK & EERU from Jambinai: ‘Silent Exorcism’
Thursday 13 October: Rich Mix Shoreditch | More details
The leader of Jambinai, EERU (formerly Lee il-woo), returns to the K-Music Festival for a new collaboration with heavy rock band PAKK. Formed in 2014 by Kim Dae-inn (guitar + vocals), Park Hyun-Seok (bass) and Kim Tae-ho (drums), they stormed the Korean indie rock scene with their first album Salpuri (Exorcism), creating furious sounds of experimental alternative rock, mixed with grunge and a heavy psychedelic sound. Their second album, Chilgasal (Seven targets to kill) was nominated for Best Rock Album in the Korean Music Awards of 2022.
EERU has been pushing musical boundaries since he became the principal musician of the Gyeonggi Sinawi Orchestra, exploring music based on Sinawi which is traditionally improvisational and accompanies the rites of Korean shamanism. For ‘Silent Exorcism’ he will bring a world of explosive sounds and combine them with PAKK’s raging anger to exorcise the devils, as he did with Jambinai’s Onda. This collaboration was commissioned and created for the Yeewoorak Festival in Seoul this summer and is presented in association with the National Theatre of Korea.
Saturday 29 October: Coventry Warwick Arts Centre, 7.45pm
Sunday 30 October: Liverpool Philharmonic/Music Room, 8pm
Tuesday 1 November: Norwich Arts Centre, 7.30pm
Wednesday 2 November: Southbank Centre/Purcell Room, 8pm | More details
Dongyang Gozupa (translated as “eastern high frequency”) defy description. They stormed the K-Music Festival last year with their wild mix of trail-blazing percussion combined with the yanggeum (hammered dulcimer) to create highly intense and hard-hitting progressive post-rock, merging power and beautiful melodies. Dohyuk Jang (percussion), Eunhwa Yun (yanggeum), Minhwi Ham (bass).
“The past decade has seen a truly electrifying wave of artists using Korean folk and classical music to discover new directions in sound – think Jambinai and Black String – and Dongyang Gozupa can claim their place among them. The Korean group… are turning the power trio on its head, using tropes of their national music to make genre-splicing sounds” – SONGLINES
“Dongyang Gozupa are like nothing you have ever heard before … or everything you have heard but all at the same time. Quite simply, the most magically mesmerising mixed-up minds in music.” – David Hutcheon of MOJO
Thursday 17 November: Southbank Centre/Purcell Room, 8pm
Part of the EFG London Jazz Festival | More details
Drummer Sun-Mi Hong was born in Incheon, Korea, but moved to Amsterdam to study at the Conservatoire and is now well established in the Dutch jazz scene, with a distinct style combining rooted groove with well-tempered outbursts. Her award-winning album ‘A Self-Strewn Portrait’ came out in 2021 and she releases a new album with her quintet, Third Page: Resonance, in November on Edition Records. Alistair Payne (trumpet), Alessandro Fongaro (bass), Sun-Mi Hong (drums & composition), Nicolo Ricci (tenor saxophone) and Young-Woo Lee (piano).
The concert will include collaboration with guitarist Ant Law and saxophonist Alex Hitchcock, who will perform the opening set.
“Sun-Mi Hong is one of the most promising young jazz artists in the Netherlands. Her music balances between jazz, impressionism and the Korean tradition” BIMHUIS
Thursday 24 November: Stone Nest Shaftesbury Avenue, 8pm | More details
Park Jiha’s latest album, the critically acclaimed ‘The Gleam’ (2022, tak:til / Glitterbeat) (LKL Review | Interview) is a gorgeous meditation on the intersection of music and light. She plays the piri, a type of oboe, the saenghwang, a mouth organ, the hammered dulcimer known as the yanggeum and the glockenspiel. There’s a stark clarity to her sound but it has a searching warmth, with occasional references to the formality of traditional Korean music that is her background, but she feels the distance she has put between herself and that teaching is “really what made my music what it is now”. Her music comes together as a beautiful whole, flows with a natural rhythm and breathes.
“Park Jiha has a foot in jazz and drone, but her new album might be better described as “slow music”, making art illuminating our organic relationship with passing time.” UNCUT “Packed with moments of intense reflection, with melodies straddling the ancient and modern, The Gleam confirms Jiha as a singular talent.” MOJO