Masters of Korea's "Spirit Music" arrive in NYC;

Korean Shamanic Music at Peter Norton Symphony Space on Saturday, Oct 25

Rare U.S. appearance by two Korean musical legends:

P'ansori vocalist Yeong-Hee Shin and percussionist Kwang-Soo Lee

"New York P'an: Spiritual Exuberance" also includes NYC's Sounds of Korea

and Rutgers University Korean drum ensemble in celebration of KPAC's 20th Year

VIDEO: Percussion Master Kwang-Soo Lee


VIDEO: P'ansori vocal Master Yeong-Hee Shin


With October's harvest time once again being an occasion to make connections with the spirit world, the Korean Performing Arts Center (KPAC) offers New York audiences a gripping glimpse into ancient Korean shamanic music in a program titled New York P'an: Spiritual Exuberance. The concert, celebrating KPAC's 20th Anniversary, will take place at the Peter Norton Symphony Space on Saturday, October 25th at 7:30pm.

Highlighting the event will be appearances by renowned Korean performers, including two musical legends rarely seen in the West: Master Yeong-hee Shin, a celebrated singer designated a National Human Treasure for her mastery of the demanding p'ansori repertoire, as well as samul-nori Master Kwang-soo Lee, a famed percussionist and master of shaman vocalism.

The program will also feature New York City-based ensemble Sounds of Korea, presenting folk songs, percussion music and a sampling of Korean folk dances, all directed by artistic director and dancer, Master Sue Yeon Park, designated a 2008 National Heritage Fellow, the highest honor for an artist of traditional music and dance awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She is the only Korean American to achieve this honor.

The October 25th program spotlights the traditional concept of P'an , an indoor or outdoor performance area where traditional spectacles are accessible to all social and economic classes. Beginning with the opening Binari song, breaking boundaries between performer and audience is important for the artistic, aesthetic and spiritual bonds of shamanistic rituals.

P'ansori (from pan, or "gathering place," and sori, meaning "songs") is an oral tradition often dubbed"Korean opera meets the blues." In the late 18th century, when musical performance was defined by court ceremony, p'ansori emerged as a populist alternative given to greater emotional expression. As a solo singer (gwangdae) narrates a story, often portraying different characters by varying physical gestures and vocal color, a solo percussionist (gosu) also chimes in, punctuating and accentuating the story with both instrumental and vocal outbursts. Though only five of the original 12 p'ansori epics still survive today, the art form continues to resonate heavily with the Korean public. Director Im Kwon-taek's 1993 film Sopyonje, about a family of p'ansori singers in modern-day Korea, broke national box-office records, drawing more than a million viewers in Seoul alone. In 2003, UNESCO added p'an-sori to its roster of intangible cultural heritage.

Binari (or 'to pray') is a shamanistic call to all deities for happiness, health and wealth for the living. Binari was traditionally sung not only at holidays and agrarian celebrations but also at Buddhist temples, an ideal expression of indigenous Korean shamanism. Binari is sung by conveying several topics within a long text, presenting contrasts between soloist and chorus in a strophic form, accompanied by percussion ensemble with acrobatic dance movements.

With roots both in agrarian festivals and shamanistic practice, samul-nori (from samul, meaning "four things," and nori, meaning "to play") has grown steadily in popularity over the last few decades both in Korea and abroad. In its modern incarnation, samul-nori consists of four basic instruments: the puk (a low-pitched barrel drum representing the clouds), the jing (an iron gong representing the wind), the jannqu (an hourglass-shaped, high-pitched drum representing the rain), and the k'kwaenggwari (a small, high-pitched gong representing lightening). An old harvest-time tradition, samul-nori performances also include dancing.

Connecting the thread between the large Korean populations in New York and New Jersey, the program also includes a percussion performance by the Korean Cultural Group of Rutgers University, from the main New Brunswick, NJ campus.

For background information on Korea's unique shamanistic traditions, Korean-American ethnomusicologist and composer Dr Ju-Yong Ha will be available for phone and Skype interviews from Seoul, as well as Sounds of Korea dancer / artistic director Sue Yeon Park in New York.

Concert Details:

KPAC Presents -- New York P'an: Spiritual Exuberance

Saturday October 25 at 7:30pm

Peter Norton Symphony Space

2537 Broadway at 95h St.

New York, NY 10025

Tickets: $35 - $100 / Student/Senior/Child: $25

Box Office 212:864-5400 www.symphonyspace.org