Eight Korean traditional music orchestras from across the country will come together for a gugak festival next month.
The inaugural “Korean Traditional Music Orchestra Festival” is to kick off ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the first Korean traditional music orchestra, the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra, which was officially established in March 1965. The festival aims to become an annual event.
While there are many forms of K-culture that are thriving, traditional music has yet to enjoy such broad popularity, said Ahn Ho-sang, CEO of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, during a press conference held on Wednesday.
"We must act now while the first generation that initiated Korean traditional music orchestras is still here," Ahn said.
The history of Korean traditional music orchestras goes back to the establishment of the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra in 1965. It enjoyed significant popularity in the 1980s and 1990s but experienced a slowdown in the 2000s. Recently, it has regained momentum as young Korean traditional musicians have received attention.
"It is a relatively new musical genre, with its history spanning only about 60 years. We hope to generate more buzz and get people more interested through this festival," said Park Bum-hoon, the chair of the festival committee. Park, a composer and conductor, was the inaugural artistic director of the National Orchestra of Korea.
The festival kicks off with a pre-opening event on Oct. 10. Performances by the KBS Traditional Music Orchestra (Oct. 11), Gyeonggi Sinawi Orchestra (Oct. 12), Busan Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra (Oct. 14), Daejeon Yeonjeong Korean Traditional Music (Oct. 17), Jeonju Korea Music Orchestra (Oct. 18), Daegu Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra (Oct. 19), Gangwon Provincial Gugak Orchestra (Oct. 20) and Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra (Oct. 21) are scheduled to take place at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
Some well-known Korean traditional music stars will perform with the orchestras. Pansori star Kim Jun-su, geomungo player Park Da-wool from the JTBC survival show, “Super Band 2,” daegeum player Lee Aram and ajaeng player Kim Il-gu are in the lineup.
Collaborations with Western instruments are also something to look forward to, with Japanese pianist Yuko Nakandakari, violinist Danny Koo, electric guitarist Kim Sung-hyun and cellist Shim Joon-ho participating in the festival.
All seats, which were available for free, were sold out within 20 minutes after online reservations opened on Wednesday, ahead of the press conference, according to the Sejong Center.