On March 12th, I traveled to Umyeongdang National Gugak Center with two of my friends who are also in my Korean Traditional Korean Music and Culture class to attend a traditional music concert. Before attending the show, I was able to walk around the Gugak Museum, which was also in the area. This was an incredible experience because I was able to see some of the instruments that would be used in the concert up close. My favorite part of the museum was the interactive aspects. I was able to hear the different sounds that various instruments made and play some of them myself. However, examining the instruments in the museum was nothing like hearing them live.
Before this concert, I had never heard traditional Korean music live before, so I was very excited. The opening performance of the show was an orchestral ensemble. This was the first time that I had heard an orchestra perform live in years, and it struck a chord with me. The build-up of the music was incredible and had such a nice flow to it. I would think the song’s peak was coming, but it would flow into another part of the song instead. The way that all the instruments came together, then stopped for the soloist playing the Ajaeng, was breathtaking. I genuinely got goosebumps watching this performance, and it also happened to be my favorite piece of the entire concert.
Another performance that stood out to me was the segment of two women who sang and danced on the main stage while the musicians played on the side stage. It was incredible to see what my Professor has been teaching me throughout this semester in real life. Seeing how effortlessly these performers moved while also singing was beyond impressive. It looked like they were floating along the stage. Also, the way they flowed off of each other while singing wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. It felt as if they were speaking to each other through the song. It was also hard to ignore the beautiful Hanboks they were wearing, which added to the uniqueness of traditional Korean performances.
In all, going to this traditional concert, especially with my Professor and so many of my peers, was such an incredible experience. Learning about traditional music in class is much different than experiencing it firsthand, so I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to go.