tumblr page counter

New Music Concerts Robert Aitken, artistic director

Korean Music Festival

December 6-9: Korean Music Festival with partners at the Royal Conservatory and the Music Gallery. December 6 at the RCM: The Glenn Gould School Contemporary Music Ensemble performs music by Korean composers Unsuk Chin and Sukhi Kang under the direction of Brian Current. December 7 at the Music Gallery: Claudia Chan (piano) and Véronique Mathieu (violin) perform music by Unsuk Chin and Isang Yun

Sunday December 9 at Betty Oliphant Theatre
New Music Concerts presents:

Sunday December 9, 2012
Concert at 2:30
Korean Music Project
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street [MAP]

Yiho Ahn, pansori singer;
Najung Jin, gayageum (zither);
Kilyong Chae, daegeum (bamboo flute);
Sori Choi, janggu; buk (percussion)

Sangnyeongsan from Yeongsanhoesang - Traditional
(Daegeum and Gayageum)

Pansori - Sea Palace Song - Traditional
(voice and percussion)

Rauhe Pinzelspitze (1992) - Klaus Huber (Switzerland 1924)
(Gayageum and Buk)

Chongseonggok - Traditional
Traditional Tongyeong Ensemble (Daegeum)

From the silence II (2012) world premiere - Inwon Kang (S. Korea 1989)
(Daegeum, Gayageum, Janggu)

Gueum Sinawi - Traditional
(Voice, Daegeum, Gayageum and Percussion)


Sunday December 9, 2012
Introduction 7:15 | Concert 8:00
The Korean Story - Sukhi Kang and his Class
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street
New Music Concerts Ensemble
Adam Sherkin, solo piano
Robert Aitken, flute and direction

Nong (1970) - Sukhi Kang (S.Korea 1934)

Chorale Fantasy III-V (2007/08) - Shinuh Lee (S. Korea 1969)

Secret of the Garden (2012) - So Jeong Ahn (S. Korea 1956)
World premiere - NMC Ontario Arts Council commission

Episode (2009) - Jongwoo Yim (S. Korea 1966)

The Myth (2008) - Sukhi Kang

Gougalon (2009) - Unsuk Chin (S. Korea 1961)

Klaus Huber

was born in Bern, attended school in Basel and a teacher training college in Kusnacht (Zurich). Between 1947 and 1949 he studied music (violin and school music) in Zurich. From 1947 to 1955 he studied composition under Willy Burkhard, and from 1955 to 1956 with Boris Blacher. From 1960 to 1963 he taught at Lucerne Conservatory, and from 1964 to 1973 he led the composition class at Musikakademie Basel (Basel Music Academy). In 1966, 1968 and 1972 he also taught composition seminars at the Gaudeamus Foundation in Bilthoven (Netherlands). In 1969 he founded the Boswil International Composition Seminar, and in 1970 he won the Beethoven Prize of the City of Bonn. Between 1973 and 1990 he taught composition at Freiburg im Breisgau School of Music. In 1978 he won the Basel Arts Prize. From 1979 to 1982 he was president of the Swiss Musicians' Association. In 1983 he made a revelatory visit to Nicaragua. Since 1984 he has played a more flexible role as guest professor. Huber is a member of the Akademie der Schönen Künste, the Akademie der Künste Berlin and the Freien Akademie der Künste Mannheim.

Klaus Huber (Switzerland 1924) Rauhe Pinselspitze (Canadian Premiere) (1992)

Rauhe Pinselspitze (Rough Brush), composed by Klaus Huber in 1992, was presented to Isang Yun, a long time friend of the composer, in celebration of Yun’s 75th anniversary. The premiere performance was given by Yi Ji-young in 1993 at Schauspilhaus Berlin, Germany. This short piece based on Korean music tradition is originally written for Gayageum (Korean plucked instrument) and Buk (Korean drum), though Huber also wrote a version of the piece for cello pizzicato. A Gayageum has 12 strings that can be tuned in any way. Klaus Huber decided to tune the Gayageum in 6th tones. Huber’s dedication of this work reads: “l dedicate this work to my beloved friend Isang Yun who has continuously struggled with a stubborn courage and patience on his 75th birthday. l appreciate the times l was able to spend with Isang Yun who strove to conquer the limits of pedagogy and integrate the comprehensive humanism of the western musical world with the Korean traditional cultural heritage. Viva Isang Yun!”

Inwon Kang

was born in 1989 in Seoul, Korea. He graduated in Gayageum performance at Gukak National middle school in 2008 and also studied composition at the Korea National University of Arts Preparatory School. He received his Bachelor’s degree in composition at the Korea National University of Arts in 2012 and continued studies for a master’s degree. He participated in the 44th Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in 2008. His works were performed at the Creative Gugak (Korean traditional music) Festival in 2011 and his Ekphrasis was perfomed by Ensemble Timf at the Klangspuren festival in Schwaz, Austria. He has attended masterclasses with Unsuk Chin since 2007 and with Toshio Hosokawa at the Tongyeong International Music Festival in 2012.

Inwon Kang (S. Korea 1989) From the silence II (Canadian Premiere) (2012)

In this piece I attempted to get away from the sounds that are usually expected from the combination of these three instruments. To do this, I replaced the distinctive sound of these Korean traditional instruments with extended techniques to create a new combination of sounds. I moved the Janggu drum away from its role of rhythmic accompaniment and found untraditional ways to write for the Gayageum and Daegeum so that these three ancient instruments become new instruments. All the sounds emerge from silence and are generated in a variety of ways.
— Inwon Kang

Sukhi Kang

majored in composition at the National University of Seoul College of Music. He continued his studies at the Advanced Music School of the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory and at the Technical University of Berlin. He was one of the first composers to present his electronic music in Korea. From 1969 until 1992, he organized a festival of new music in Seoul, the Pan Music Festival. He participated at all the important European festivals devoted to new music both as composer and journalist and reported his impressions on Korean radio and magazines. He also became the president of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Korea. In his book Begegnungen mit der Welt-Musik (Encounters with the Music of the World), he described his practices and experiences in Europe, comparing and analyzing Korean and European cultures. In 1980, Kang returned to Europe for two years: he worked at the Electronic Music Studio in Cologne and at the Electronic Studio of Berlin’s Technical University. He has been a professor of composition at the National University of Seoul and Keymyung University, Daegu. He was also the musical director for the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 and composed computer music for the opening of the Olympics. In 1995 he published another book, Analysis of Contemporary Music. Currently he is a distinguished eminent professor of Keimyung University and an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music.

Sukhi Kang (S.Korea 1934) Nong (Canadian Premiere) (1970)

During his residence in Germany, Sukhi Kang experienced a major shift in his interests from the initial stage of incorporating Korean traditional elements into his composition toward the more logical stage. This means that he began to realize the necessity to develop more sophisticated types of technique in order to express the Korean elements with more accuracy by using Western musical instruments. To this end, he concentrated on developing various types of relevant infrastructures, such as sound conditioning, melodies, and grace notes. His first work in Germany, Nong [in which he had tried to transfer the technique of Gayageum to the notation system of the flute], represented such efforts to make the most of the Korean elements with such types of infrastructures. Nong is often regarded as an excellent example of combining Korean idioms with Western harmony.
— Hooshik Hwang

Sukhi Kang The Myth (Canadian Premiere) (2008)

The Myth for seven players is written in the form of fragments. Several of these fragments are also used in their mirror form. The fundamental sonority of the piece is the combination of vibraphone and piano. This work was composed for the ensemble MD7. The Myth was composed for a concert celebrating the hundredth birthday of Dr. Lee Hye Gu, a renowned scholar of Korean music.
— Sukhi Kang

Shinuh Lee

started her career as a composer when she took her first composition lessons with Unsuk Chin. Lee studied composition with Sukhi Kang at Seoul National University, and later with Michael Finnissy at the Royal Academy of Music, the University of London, and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. While she studied in the UK, Lee won a number of prizes from various competitions and music festivals, which include the Musical Times Composers' Competition, Cornelius Cardew Composers' Competition and was a finalist at ISCM World Music Days, Gaudeamus Composers' Competition and Leonard Bernstein International Jerusalem Composing Competition. After returning to Korea, she received the Korean Composition Award, AhnEakTae Composition Award, Grand Prize for the Korean Race Composition Award, Nanpa Music Award and the Young Artist Today Award from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Korea. She is now Professor of composition at Seoul National University where she is the music director of the Pathway Concert Series and Studio 2021, a new music series at the College of Music.

Shinuh Lee (S. Korea 1969) Chorale Fantasy (III-V) (Canadian Premiere) (2007/8)

Since I wrote my orchestral piece Psalm 20 (1994/96, revision 1998), messages from the Bible have been the most important elements and themes in my works. Since then, I’ve written many pieces that were inspired by various parts of the Bible. However, I felt it was unfulfilling to express such huge Biblical messages and inspirations in small pieces and in such a short amounts of time. So, I moved to write pieces for piano in a series (11 pieces and 1 hour in duration). I had been considerably influenced by Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur I'Enfant-Jesus. It amazed me how Messiaen effectively expressed his Catholic faith by connecting his theological views with his music. My Chorale Fantasy 'Comfort, Comfort my people,’ takes a similar structure to Vingt Regards sur I'Enfant-Jesus. A chorale melody in 'Sinfonia' is the theme of the piece, and this melody is transformed into two different modal harmonies in II and V, meant to imply sin. These three chorale melodies are linked to Bach’s chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden and are used as symbolic devices for Redemption. For the title of each piece I quoted from The Screwtape Letters of C.S. Lewis. I wanted to expand my musical ideas and expressions through the vivid and flowing sentences of Lewis.

Movements III-V are being performed this evening — dark, weird and virtuosic pieces that inspire human sin.

III. Building up the finest amour around a man...
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. — Romans 1:28-31

IV. A brimful living chalice of despair and horror astonishment
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes. — Romans 3:10-18

V. Chorale: ‘Lord, have mercy’
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!” — Isaiah 6:5
— Shinuh Lee

So Jeong Ahn

studied composition with Sukhi Kang at Seoul National University, with Witold Szalonek at Hochschule der Künste Berlin and musicology at Technical University in Berlin, Germany. Since participating as a guest composer in the courses for electronic music by Prof. Thomas Kessler (1999) and for algorithmic composition by Prof. Hanspeter Kyburz (2000) at the Basel Electronic Studio in Switzerland, she has been engaged in live-electronic music. Her compositions have been performed at various music festivals and concerts in Asia, Europe and North America. She was a prize winner at the Martirano Composition Competition 2007 at the University of Illinois and the Tsang Houei Hsu Composition Award 2006 in Taiwan. Since 2001 she has lived in Toronto working as a freelance composer. Recent performances include COOL! (2012) for 6 players and live electronics commissioned and premiered by the New Music Ensemble of the Glenn Gould School; LOL (2011) for piano and electronics commissioned by Yukiko Sugawara and premiered at the ECLAT Festival in Stuttgart, Germany; Conflux (2009) for trio at the Weimarer Frühjahrstage für zeitgenössische Musik; and SUB (2008) for 14 instruments and sampler commissioned and premiered by New Music Concerts.

So Jeong Ahn (S. Korea/Canada 1956) Secret of the Garden (World Premiere) (2012)

Whispering monologues of the roots in the frozen soil longing for spring, the chubby flesh of the succulent fruit reaching its groping hand in the air to climb the vine, the spellbinding fragrance from an uncertain corner, and finally the feast of a gorgeous mixture of colors… the secret of the garden becomes unlocked when our senses open.

When I was commissioned by New Music Concerts to compose a new work for this special Festival of Korean Music an image of a transplanted perennial or a shrub in a garden instantly occurred to me as an emigrated and immigrated composer.

The image of transplanted growth in new soil and the metaphoric resemblances between composition and gardening were the starting points for this piece. I offer my special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support. — So Jeong Ahn

Jongwoo Yim

graduated from the Seoul National University where he studied composition with Prof. Sukhi Kang, in the Netherlands at the Institute of Sonology (Hague Royal Conservatory), and composition with Klaas de Vries at Rotterdam Conservatory. Subsequently he studied with Philippe Manoury, Marco Stroppa and Denis Lorrain at the department of SONVS, Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Lyon, and also joined the Cursus annuel 2001-2002 for composition and computer music at IRCAM in Paris. Yim has worked with well-known contemporary music interpreters such as Daniel Kientzy (MetaDuo), Jean-Pierre Robert, Laurent Bomont, Soomin Lee, Seoul Philhamonic Orchestra, New Asia String Quartet, EnsembleTIMF and Trio Haan etc. His works have been performed at numerous international competitions and festivals such as Gaudeamus, Resonance, Agora, SICMF, ISCM World Music Days, ACL New Music Festival, Alea III, Nova Musica, Faroese Art Festival etc. Currently, he is Professor of Composition, Professor Responsible for New Media Music and director of CREAMA (Center for Research of Electro-Acoustic Music & Audio) at Hanyang University in Korea.

Jongwoo Yim (S. Korea 1966) Episode (Canadian Premiere) (2009)

Several different images of paintings by Klee and Miro have influenced the musical textures of this work, suggesting the configuration of the material into small musical sections. Michael Ende’s children’s book, Trö̈delmarkt der träume, fairy tales and fairy tale images in the paintings of Klee all inspired the textures and iconic fragments of this work, providing a background narrative to its composition. — Jongwoo Yim

Unsuk Chin

was born in Seoul, Korea (1961). She studied composition with Sukhi Kang at Seoul National University and won several international prizes in her early 20s. She studied with György Ligeti in Hamburg 1985-88. In 1988 Unsuk Chin moved to Berlin, where she worked for years as a freelance composer at the Electronic music studio of the Technical University of Berlin, realizing seven works. Her first large orchestral piece, Troerinnen, was premiered by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in 1990. In 1991, her breakthrough work Acrostic Wordplay was premiered by the Nieuw Ensemble — since then it has been performed in 15 countries in Europe, Asia and North America. Chin's collaboration with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, which has led to several commissions from the latter, started in 1994 with Fantaisie mecanique. Since 1995, Unsuk Chin is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. In 1999, Chin began an artistic collaboration with Kent Nagano, who has since premiered five of her works. Unsuk Chin was a featured composer in the 2009 Suntory Summer Festival in Tokyo which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Suntory Music Foundation. The festival culminated with the world premiere of Šu, a concerto for Chinese sheng and orchestra. The work was commissioned by Suntory Hall International Programme, ZaterdagMatinée, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Essen Philharmonie, and was composed for sheng virtuoso Wu Wei. The world premiere featured the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama.

Unsuk Chin (S. Korea 1961) Gougalon (North American premiere) (2009)

The title derives from Old High German. Inherent in it are the following meanings: to hoodwink; to make ridiculous movements; to fool someone by means of feigned magic; to practice fortune-telling.

The title refers to a Proustian moment I experienced — entirely unexpectedly — during my first sojourn in China: in 2008 and 2009 I visited Hong Kong and Guangzhou, among other places. The atmosphere of the old and poor residential neighborhoods with their narrow, winding alleys, ambulatory food vendors, and market places — all this not far from supersized video screens, ultramodern buildings, and glittering shopping centers — brought to mind long forgotten childhood experiences. It reminded me very much of Seoul of the 1960s, of the period after the Korean War and before the radical modernization. Of conditions that no longer exist in today’s (South) Korea. I was particularly reminded of a troupe of entertainers I saw a number of times as a child in a suburb of Seoul. These amateur musicians and actors traveled from village to village in order to foist self-made medicines — which were ineffective at best — on the people. To lure the villagers, they put on a play with singing, dancing, and various stunts. (I still recall that the plots almost always had to do with unrequited love, and that the performance inevitably ended with the heroine’s suicide.) This was all extremely amateurish and kitschy, yet it aroused incredible emotions among the spectators: this is hardly surprising, considering that it was practically the only entertainment in an everyday life marked by poverty and repressive structures. Entertainment electronics and toys (not to mention art) were of course unknown. Therefore, the whole village was present at this “big event,” a circumstance from which others also desired to profit: fortune-tellers, mountebanks, and traveling hawkers. Among these were also wig dealers from whom young girls could earn some money for their families by sacrificing their pigtails.

Gougalon does not refer directly to the dilettante and shabby music of that street theater. The memories described above merely provide a framework, just as the movement headings are not intended to be illustrative. This piece is about an “imaginary folk music” that is stylized, broken within itself, and only apparently primitive.
— © Unsuk Chin (translation: Howard Weiner)