Today, I was able to attend a concert in one of Seoul’s newest performance spaces, the new Gugak Theatre at Namsangol Hanok Village. It is a rather unique auditorium. First, you enter what looks like a very nice (and small) traditional Korean building. You go downstairs and there is a small auditorium. It is a very nice auditorium, too. It opened up just last year and is under the operates aegis of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
Namsangol Hanok Village consists of a few old homes which have been restored and relocated. If you want to refresh your memory of what these beautiful houses look like, click here. This was the same place with the beautiful paper flowers. You can see those photos by clicking here.
The concert in question was made up of members of the Seowon University Gayageum Ensemble. A gayageum is a traditional Korean instrument. It is a bit like a zither. Traditionally, it is made from pawlonia wood and consists of strings stretched over moveable frets. Like Chinese music, traditional Korean music uses pentatonic scale, a scale of five tones per octave. However, larger instruments have been made which can accomodate western scales. A great deal of music has been composed for these larger instruments. It is an instrument with a lovely sound. It sounds almost like a harp.
The concert consisted of the Gayageum Sanjo, a traditional Korean piece for solo gayageum and drummer. It was followed by some folk songs and finally by three new compositions. The composers were present, as this marked the first performance of their pieces. It really was a lovely afternoon and the new hall is beautiful.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any files on YouTube of the Seowon University Gayageum Ensemble (서원대학교가야금연주단), but I did find one of quite possibly the most famous gayageum ensemble in the nation, the Sookmyung Women’s University Gayageum Orchestra. Here is their rendition of “Let It Be”. When you take the KTX, this is the music, along with their rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, that you hear as you board the train.