In honor of its 20th anniversary, Lynnwood’s Morning Star Korean Cultural Center — the largest center for Korean music and dance in the Pacific Northwest — will perform a gala concert at Meany Hall, University of Washington, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.
Jiyeon Cheh, director of Morning Star, has choreographed several new pieces for this event, which will showcase her signature style of merging contemporary movements with traditional Korean forms. In addition to the music and dance, an award-winning traditional singer, Su-Jung Moon, will fly in from Korea to make a special appearance at the concert.
A rare invitation for Western audiences, Korean music and performance draws on a 3,000 year-old tradition, and is heavily percussive, using several types of drum as well as stringed instruments, such as the zither-like Kayakeum. Unlike much folk-style music, Korean folk music is extremely complex and difficult to learn—the changgo, an hourglass shaped drum, requires the performer to use both hands to establish separate sounds simultaneously on the instruments. Because of its complexity and reliance on strong triple rhythms, Korean music has a unique and contemporary flavor — “Fifteen hundred years ago, it had a sound like American jazz,” as Cheh puts it.
The pieces choreographed for this event include a dance that takes off from the traditional, seasonally themed fan dance. Titled “The Forest,” this piece too symbolizes the seasons, with fans, representing leaves, and lights used joyfully for spring and summer, and more somberly for fall and winter. “We want to use the traditions but interpret them in a new way,” says Cheh.
Pansori singing is also a traditional Korean form — a narrative song style in which the singer enacts her story through voice, a minimum of props, and the accompaniment of a drum called a buk. Su-Jung Moon, who will appear at Meany Hall with Morning Star to commemorate its anniversary, recently won a song competition in Korea sponsored by the Korean Broadcasting System, the country’s premier TV network.
Traditional Korean art — vases, small furniture, bowls and plates made of rice paper, created by the mother of a Morning Star student — will be on display in the Meany Hall lobby that evening.
Morning Star Korean Cultural Center was founded in 1985 to teach Korean music and dance to children of Korean descent in the greater Seattle community. Its role has expanded to teach classes to and foster a sense of Korean culture among local Korean adoptees. Morning Star also houses an extensive library and teaches classes to adults.
Tickets, priced at $15 (free to Korean adoptee children), can be purchased in advance at 425-745-9977, jiyeoncheh@ hotmail.com, or at the door. For more information, visit iwww.morningstarkcc.org, or contact Mrs. Jiyeon Cheh at 425-745-9977.