Ancient Korean Music Today: Jeong Ga Ak Hoe New York City Debut March 16 2016

From a media release:

Live@365: A Global Music Series
Breaking Beauty, Finding Balance: Jeong Ga Ak Hoe Redefines Korean Tradition While Seeking the Whole
New York City Debut March 16 2016 at 7:00pm 

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In Korea, artists and philosophers have long strived to find connection and oneness with the natural world. Part of that quest happens via music, as performers and listeners tune in to the sound of the voice, of gut, bamboo, and metal, and discover balance amid nature’s ebb and flow.

This goal of jowha, or harmony and balance, informs every part of the youthful, tradition-bending ensemble Jeong Ga Ak Hoe. With a gentle sense of drama, with an ongoing curiosity about how ancient melodies can move modern listeners, the group transforms song forms like pansori and the sounds of traditional instruments like the gayageum (zither) into new works that seek the golden mean between past and present, change and stasis. Ritual resonates with newly composed work for traditional instruments in vibrant interpretations of treasured Korean concepts.

“Our music is based on the concept of jowha,” explains Jiae Lee, gayageum player in the ensemble. “We think that the best condition of jowha is constantly reacting to each other, like nature, which is always changing and flowing, not standing still. We are trying to seek harmony in ensemble playing, in reacting to each other’s sound and music.”

This interplay will come to New York on March 16, 2016, at 7 pm, the ensemble’s NYC debut, as part of Live@365: A Global Music Series, presented by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and curated by Isabel Soffer/Live Sounds. The Graduate Center opens its doors to the public each semester, providing opportunities to engage with leading thinkers, writers, scholars, and performers.

Jeong Ga Ak Hoe has developed an approach that differs greatly from other new ensembles working with Korean traditions. The group draws on a powerful theatricality matched with a slow, thoughtful process of creating arrangements.

“We focus on good traditional voices because we know voices are the most powerful and important sources to express our emotions. Then we add instrumental accompaniment, trying to find the natural sound and place for each part,” Lee says. “After that, we try to connect to some social values and messages, to communicate with contemporary audiences through traditional music,” often considered old and irrelevant by young Koreans.

By teasing out the timbral delights, the key moments in song styles, the ensemble harnesses an intensity that balances the softer, more contemplative elements of Korean tradition. “‘Alio,’ which we are looking forward to sharing with our New York audience, is one of the most powerful songs of our repertoire,” notes Lee.  “We have tendency to think that voice has to be soft like bel canto, and that the soft voice is beautiful, but the pansori-style timbre in ‘Alio’ is very tough and strong. It expresses sorrow and extends our aesthetics, breaking the absolute standard of beauty through Korean voices.”

About Live@365:
Live@365 is presented by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York to showcase diverse artistic voices from around the globe. Curated by Isabel Soffer/Live Sounds, all Live@365 shows take place at the Graduate Center’s Elebash Recital Hall, an intimate 180-seat space designed with classical recital-hall design and superb, state-of-art sound. Tickets are free to CUNY students.

Live@365 is funded with generous gifts from the Baisley Powell Elebash Fund and the Ford Foundation’s Good Neighbor Committee.

The Graduate Center is located at 365 5th Avenue, between West 34 and West 35th Street. The venue is a short walk from the 6 train at the 33rd Street stop, the B / D / F / M or PATH train at the 34 Street Herald Square stop or the 1 / 2 / 3 trains at 34 Street Penn Station.

Tickets for all Live@365 shows can be purchased by visiting us online at, by calling Showclix at 1-888-71-TICKETS (1-888-718-4253 FREE) or in person (if available), from 6 pm until showtime on the day of the show at the venue. Tickets to all shows are $25 or $20 for Graduate Center members, faculty, and staff. CUNY students may reserve free tickets by calling 212-817-8215. Discount tickets for non-CUNY students may be purchased in person at the event, when available.

For more information about shows, questions about the venue, and to learn more about the entire Live@365 season, please visit us on the web at