Nong is an ancient Korean term meaning “to play”—here, the joy of discovering new ways of playing when different cultures intersect. gamin, a Korean-born NYC-based multi-instrumentalist specializing in traditional Korean wind, along with her collaborators, places instruments and concepts from traditional Korean music alongside a variety of American musical elements.
On the program, Theodore Wiprud’s Mudang for Piri(a double-reed bamboo oboe) incorporates shamanic energy that ranges from meditation to ecstasy. Korean composer Yoon-Ji Lee dedicates her composition to ‘comfort women’ (local women enslaved throughout Japan-occupied East Asia, 1932-1945) in her work for taepyungso (a double-reed shawn) and strings. Works by William David Cooper weave Western string instruments with Korean winds, incorporating folk tunes and different tuning systems. Korean composer Ki-Young Kim reflects Korean traditional philosophical ideas in his new piece, and gamin’s composition broadens the range of the new musical realm with her traditional improvisatory ideas of Korean folk music.
With Nong, gamin and her collaborators—the string quartet Interwoven and electronic sound artist Yoon-Ji Lee—hope to diversify American audiences’ aesthetic understanding of East Asia, which is all too often painted in broad strokes. They also intend to inspire new generations of American composers and musicians to embrace the inherent multiculturalism of American music, inform their crafts with rich traditions from around the world, and approach music-making with the distinct goal of bridging cultural divides.