Finding composer Yun I-sang‘s musical origin in Korea’s traditional music

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Feb 13, 2018 - 18:02
Updated : Feb 13, 2018 - 18:02

Works by acclaimed contemporary classical composer Yun I-sang will be performed by the National Gugak Center, the state-led institution dedicated to traditional Korean gugak, and the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra in a joint concert on Feb. 23. 

“Yun Isang: Embracing the Roots of Korean Aesthetic” (The Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation)


“The Traditional Performing Arts Foundation first decided to initiate the project to offer a better understanding of composer Yun I-sang’s musical roots. The center hopes to shed light on the fact that Yun‘s music stemmed from Korea‘s traditional music,” said Sohn Hye-ri, Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation president, during a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday.

For the concert highlighting Yun, some 100 members from the National Gugak Center and the same-sized Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra will perform both Korean traditional music and Yun’s well-known works.

Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation President Sohn Hye-ri (first from left), The National Gugak Center’s Music Research Director Kim Hee-sun (second from left), the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra‘s conductor Sung Shi-yeon (third from left) and The National Gugak Center‘s Piri player Lee Young attend a press conference held in Seoul Tuesday. (The Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation)


The program will first start off with “Jongmyo Jeryeak,” or the royal court music and ritual performed for ancestral rites at the Jongmyo Shrine. The music will be played by the Court Music Orchestra and the rite will be performed by the Dance Theater of the National Gugak Center. Chun Min-kyung’s performance of Yun I-sang‘s “Piri for Oboe Solo” will follow the court music performance.

The Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Sung Shi-yeon, will perform “Reak,” which had its world premiere in 1966 and marked the international breakthrough for the Korean-born musician who later settled in Germany.

The orchestra will also perform Yun’s “Muak, Dance Fantasy for Large Orchestra,” a work presumed to be heavily influence by traditional dance work called, “Dance of the Spring Nightingale.” The performance will be accompanied by contemporary dance company Art Project Bora. 

The Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra‘s conductor Sung Shi-yeon speaks during a press conference held in Seoul Tuesday. (The Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation)


“When the orchestra and I were invited to Musikfest Berlin last year, foreign press showed great interest in Yun‘s music, but they expressed difficulties finding sources regarding his musical root. I hope this concert sheds light on the composer and his musical identity,” said Sung.

Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)

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