Korea GAYOJE (‘music festival’) blending traditional Korean sounds with glam rock, contemporary world music & hip-hop
Inaugurated in 1979, the Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY) is a branch of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) of the Republic of Korea. Under the authority of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York, KCCNY works to promote cultural arts exchange and stimulate interest in Korean culture through diverse activities including gallery exhibitions, performing arts concerts, film festivals, and educational workshops.
The Year of the Ox is a rap duo with Korean roots. Comprised of two hip hop performers from Virginia, “Lyricks” and “JL,” they embody the traits of the Ox, according to the Zodiac. These include strength, familial loyalty and a strong adherence to traditions. These fundamentals all come through in their sound, which incorporates elements or hardcore mixed with a smooth lyrical flow. They pride themselves on their well thought out verses, which often encapsulate messages of empowerment for the “everyman,” shedding light on the struggles of the average person. Their EP VOX has done remarkably well online, earning them a loyal and growing following in the underground rap world. In 2016 they released the track “Seven Rings,” which has chalked up millions of views on YouTube. They bring passion to their live shows, proudly representing the values of the hardworking rapper.
What do you get when you mix authentic, traditional Korean vocals with rock band flare, then add in some extravagant visuals and a transfixing stage presence? You get SsingSsing, Korea’s top rock/folk fusion act. Formed when six musicians from diverse genres aligned creative forces, this eccentric band welds two totally disparate elements: rock band bravado and deep-rooted Korean folk. SsingSsing skillfully blends these styles and presents them in a contemporary and accessible context with components of ballads, pop, and spiritual rituals. Featuring Hee-moon Lee (lead vocal), Young-gyu Jang (Music Director/bass guitar), Da-hye Choo (vocal), Seung-tae Shin (vocal), Chul-hee Lee (drum), Tae-won Lee (electric guitar/keyboard), SsingSsing creates a distinctive musical atmosphere as they incorporate Korean traditional composition, such as GyeonggiSori (folk songs from central province around Seoul), SeodoSori (folk songs from northwestern provinces in North Korea), and Seoul Gut (shamanistic ritual from Seoul) in their highly nuanced and entertaining work. Called “an irreverent but intriguing hybrid” by The New York Times, and “One of top discoveries from globalFEST 2017” by NPR, this brazenly fun and enlightening band is not to be missed.
There are few band across the world that so expertly meld classic, traditional instruments and vocalization with entirely modern ones as Coreyah. Indeed, their new breed of music breaks the barrier between the traditional and the contemporary. Rooted in Korean folklore, Coreyah strives to create “living Korean music” by assimilating various world music heritages, such as Anglo-American rock, Balkan gypsy, and a variety of musical genres from South America and Africa. The band is chocked full of gifted musicians, consisting of Dong-Kun Kim (daegeum, sogeum, tungso), Boyoung Ham (vocals), Halee Jeong (geomungo, yanggeum), Cho-Rong Kim (janggu, jing, kkwaenggwari), Sangheum Park (guitar) and Kyungyi (percussion). Since their 2010 debut, Coreyah has been expanding its musical domain by actively blurring the distinction between old and new. In 2011, they won the grand prize at a new Korean music competition called “Cheonchamanbyeol (all kinds of music) Concert” hosted by BukchonChangwoo Theater, and were selected for “Tune Up,” an esteemed granting program. The following year, Coreyah proved that traditional Korean music could attract just as much attention as flashy rock, when they reached the top 16 on KBS (Korean Broadcasting System)’s “Top Band II,” a band survival show. They then went on a four European country-tour, and in 2013, Coreyah received the highest mark at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. They continue to delight audiences at home and abroad.
Korea GAYOJE is presented by SummerStage and the Korean Cultural Center New York, and is supported by SORI, the Korea Arts Management Service, and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as part of the Traveling Korean Arts project as well as the Korean Culture Day 2017.