It doesn’t happen every day that we have the opportunity to enjoy sounds coming from Korea. Luckily, once a year, Serious and the Korean Cultural Centre fill venues like Southbank Centre, Kings Place and Rich Mix with East Asian notes, offering to London the K-Music Festival.
During seven shows scattered throughout September (with a “preview” at Pizza Express Soho on Sunday 30th) October and November, the K-Music Festival will present, for the fifth year in a row, a vivid perspective on Korean music.
It will all start on 2nd October at Southbank’s Purcell Room. In the recently refurbished hall, SSINGSSING are going to defy preconceptions of identities, genres and labels. Blending funk and glam-rock with traditional sounds and presenting them by making extensive use of an eccentric, imaginative and striking stage presence, they will undoubtedly charm the entire audience.
On 9th October, it will be the turn of Rich Mix to experience a full immersion into Korean culture. Ensemble E-DO are indeed masters in music exploration. They look back to their roots (also playing quintessentially Korean instruments like the chulhyungeum, the janggu and the daegeum) to bring them forward, employing a fresh musical perspective by adding jazz and rock arrangements.
Ten days later (Tuesday 19th October) at King’s Place, an ever more unconventional musical union will go on stage. Urban Sound are not simply an artistic meeting between the East and Far East Asian and European traditions, but also between three far-out and original musicians who nonchalantly mix classical and experimental.
The first Saturday of November (3rd) will give you the unique chance to attend a performance of a Korean “living national treasure”. Ahn Sook-Sun, who will perform at the Purcell Room, is a remarkable figure in the Korean culture. She is the icon of the four-century-old pansori, the Korean traditional musical storytelling, and far more than a “singer”. She’s a culture bearer and interpreter and one of the most emphatic voices of her country. During her London performance, Ahn Sook-Sun will perform Heungbo-ga, the most comical and arguably easily entertaining of the five remaining pansori.
The following K-Music Festival show on the programme (happening on 19th November at the Purcell Room) is another marriage between traditional and contemporary sounds. Near East Quartet and Kyungso Park are music adventurers and experimenters. They’re not afraid to measure themselves with their country music history and they’re not afraid to carry it West, giving more jazz and experimental traits.
On the following day (Tuesday 20th November), Youn Sun Nah supported by Hyelim Kim & Alice Zawadzki will gift the festival its grand finale. One of the most renowned Korean voices and one of the finest in the world jazz music scene will come back to London after two years for another eclectic show. In 2016, Youn Sun Nah went above and beyond with her performance, bringing together and re-interpreting the likes of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and Nine Inch Nails, but also English folk, hard rock and Latin flavours. Her talent allows her to do the unexpected…so wait for it.