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Yeowoorak fest aims to introduce a world of different sounds

Organizers and musicians for the 12th Yeowoorak Festival pose at a press conference held at the National Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (NTOK)
Organizers and musicians for the 12th Yeowoorak Festival pose at a press conference held at the National Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (NTOK)
Yeowoorak Festival, an annual gugak, or traditional Korean music, event, will return to the National Theater of Korea from July 2 to 24, after being held online last year.

Now in its 12th year, the festival has established itself as a grounds for new experiments in gugak. And this year, the festival breaks away from having an artistic director and music director, and instead appointed a creative director to head the festival.

Park Woo-jae, an acclaimed geomungo player was named as this year’s creative director.

Creative director Park Woo-jae speaks during a press conference held at the National Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (NTOK)
Creative director Park Woo-jae speaks during a press conference held at the National Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (NTOK)
“Yeowoorak is a trend-leading festival,” Park said at a press conference held at The National Theater of Korea on Wednesday. “Hence, we wanted to show more provocative works. We defined this year’s festival as ‘ruleless hyper-connection of those who have stepped on the line’ and cast artists who are constantly expanding the scope of their music.”

A total of 13 performances will be held at this year’s festival under four categories -- Directors Pick, Yeowoorak Collabo, Yeowoorak Choice, and Directors Lab.

The Directors Pick consists of three performances created and designed by Park.

The opening number “The Two Eyes,” will be performed by Muto and MNHstudio. The work is based on Simcheongga, one of the five surviving stories of pansori, and combines LED kinetic image with media art. Three geomungo soloists Shim Eun-yong, Hwang Jin-ah and Park Da-ul, will present a collaboration performance titled “Goh Goh Goh.”

The Yeowoorak Collabo is a series of performances that presents a mixture of genres and artists. A world music group, an electronic rock band, a shaman, and a photographer will collaborate with traditional musicians to make sounds and performances that have never before been heard or seen.

A scene from a performance by Muto. (NTOK)
A scene from a performance by Muto. (NTOK)
The Yeowoorak Choice features artists who have created their own music worlds. Park Soon-ah, a gayageum player who learned music in both South and North Korea as a third-generation Korean-Japanese, the group Haepaary, who combines royal ancestral rites music with electronic sounds, and Chudahye Chagis will take to the stage.

The most experimental concepts will be highlighted through the Directors Lab section. In one performance, a tofu-making process will be demonstrated through music, allowing audiences to engage their sense of sight, sound and smell.

Yeowoorak Academy will be held during the festival period to provide mentoring and practice opportunities for gugak students. Creative Director Park and daegeum player Lee Ah-ram will act as mentors.

Pointing out that Yeowoorak has consistently presented themes and trends yet unheard in the music scene, Park said he hopes that this year’s festival will serve as Voyager 1, carrying audiences to a different music world.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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