theSpace @ Symposium Hall – Amphitheatre
The vibe at this year’s festival may be a little bit different, there’s an air of reservation and the sense that people aren’t hitting it as hard and going as wild as usual, but the mad-cap programming is still the same. Fancy a rave at 7pm? Why not! Some Korean contemporary classical music at 10:40pm? Don’t mind if I do!
The Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) present a cross-genre roster of shows every year at the festival and is a key part of the Fringe’s programming of international cultural work. At the crazy time of 10:40pm (or 3:40pm Korea time), contemporary music ensemble WeMu are performing Six Stories, interpretations of traditional Korean shamanic rituals. The music is arranged by Joohwa Park for Korean instruments such as traditional drums played by Yoonman Kim and the ‘piri’, a type of double reed whistle made from bamboo which dates back to the Three Kingdoms era and is played by Chanwoo Lee. These sit alongside our familiar western style violin, played by Hyunjik Kim, keys by Joohwa Park.
The format of the evening is six songs on six themes sung in Korean by the amazing Songji Kim. She has a fantastic clarity of voice as well as being a very engaging performer. They have picked a repertoire that is fun, upbeat for the most part, punctured at the halfway point with a beautifully plaintive and soulful number led by drums and violin that builds to an exciting, frenzied finale. The nifty little jig as the fourth story is cute and sounds familiar.
The rep is easy for a western audience, I suspect it was picked to be such. The performers’ English isn’t great, so it isn’t quite easy to tell what each song is about from the preamble. I’m sure this will change over the run and it’s immaterial anyway, because, as the saying goes, ‘the music speaks for itself’.
Traditional Korean music, and less so contemporary interpretations, are seldom performed in the UK. It is a shame that the run time falls short of the 50 minutes advertised – perhaps they should consider a seventh story. The audience would certainly love it.
Arrangements by: Joohwa Park
Produced by: WeMu
Six Stories is on at theSpace until 18 August. Further information and bookings here.