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Jeonju Intl. Sori Festival moved up to summer for 2024

June 20, 2024 - 15:53 By Hwang Dong-hee
Lee Wang-jun, chairman of the Jeonju International Sori Festival, and Kim Hee-sun, executive director of the festival, attended a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Jeonju International Sori Festival)

The 23rd Jeonju International Sori Festival is set to run from Aug. 14 to 18, featuring a rich lineup of 105 performances across 78 programs of different genres including traditional Korean music, or "gugak," classical music and world music. The performances will take place at Sori Arts Center of North Jeolla Province and cities across North Jeolla Province.

Opening the festival is "Pungmul Pankut," which transforms "nongak" into a theatrical performance. Nongak translates as "farmer's music" and is a performing art derived from traditional communal rites and rustic entertainment.

The grand finale of the festival will feature a pansori duo performance by master singers Cho Sang-hyun and Shin Young Hee.

This year marks a significant shift for the festival as it has changed its season from autumn to summer.

“The biggest change this year is moving the festival date to summer. We hope that this shift will attract gugak performers, gugak majors, school officials and gugak enthusiasts nationwide to gather in Jeonju during their vacation. We hope to expand the festival’s reach,” said Lee Wang-jun, chairman of the festival organizing committee.

Another highlight of the event is the opportunity to see all five extant pansori madang, or sets -- “Simcheongga,” “Heungbuga,” “Sugungga,” “Jeokbyeokga” and “Chunhyangga” -- performed in their entirety. Notably, star pansori performer Lee Ja-ram will present "Jeokbyeokga," a retelling of the Chinese historical legend of the Battle of Red Cliffs.

In addition to the traditional offerings, the festival will feature classical music duets by celebrated violinist Chung Kyung-wha and pianist Lim Dong-hyek, as well as performances by the string ensemble Sejong Soloists.

The festival also includes the traditional music drama “Jeokro” and the contemporary music drama “A Song of Dewdrops” by a veteran trio -- playwright Bae Sam-sik, composer Choi Woo-jung and director Jung Young-doo. The Honam Opera Company will stage “The Dream of Nokdu,” a production inspired by Jeon Bong-jun, a prominent figure in the Donghak Peasant Revolution of 1894-1895.