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National Gugak Center to unveils cantatas of 'Jongmyo Jeryeak,' 'Arirang'

Sept. 27, 2022 - 23:04 By Park Ga-young

The Contemporary Gugak Orchestra and Winner Opera Chorus perform "Arirang, Never Ending Song" at a concert in June 2021. (National Gugak Center)

The National Gugak Center, a state-supported organization that aims to foster Korean traditional music, is set to perform a set of cantatas featuring Korea’s "Jongmyo Jeryeak" and "Arirang."

The concert, conducted by Lee Yong-tak, the artistic director of the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, will present a harmonious sound created by 123 performers.

The first part, which will run for 45 minutes, will premiere a new rearrangement of "Jongmyo Jeryeak" by Suwon University professor Kim Eun-hye. Commissioned by the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, Kim rearranged "Jongmyo Jeryeak" into a slow and solemn three-movement piece, while keeping most of the original melody. The first part features the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, Winner Opera Chorus, soprano Hong Ju-young and baritone Han Myung-won.

"Jongmyo Jeryeak," royal ceremonial music with singing and choreography performed at royal ancestral rites held at the Jongmyo shrine, exemplifies the traditional music and culture of the Joseon era's royal court.

"Jongmyo Jeryeak" was registered as the nation's first Intangible Cultural Heritage in 1964, and was inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2001.

The second part of the concert will present “Arirang, Never Ending Song” composed by Suh Soon-jung, an adjunct professor at Hanyang University. The second and fourth movements of “Arirang, Never Ending Song” will be performed by Korean folk song singer Kang Hyo-joo, pansori singer Chung Yoon-hyung, soprano Shin Eun-hye and tenor Park Sung-kyu.

This concert aims to promote the globalization of Korean traditional music through the harmony of Eastern and Western music while maintaining the majesty and restrained beauty of "Jongmyo Jeryeak," according to Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, which is under the National Gugak Center.

"This performance, where you can enjoy cantatas of the world's intangible cultural heritage, 'Jongmyo Jeryeak' and 'Arirang,' will be a performance where you can taste the essence of Korean instrumental music and vocal music," Lee, the artistic director of the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, said.

The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at the National Gugak Center in southern Seoul.

Tickets range in price from 10,000 won to 30,000 won. Reservations can be made through the National Gugak Center website.