Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Visit to Changwoo Theatre and Won Jung's Audition

October 13th, 2010
I stayed home doing computer work (mostly photos) all day, Karjam came home after his exam fairly pleased with himself, in the early evening we took a walk on 남산 Namsan (maybe I can upload photos later) while practicing his Korean prepositions.

October 14th, 2010
In the morning I went to class with Professor Hilary Finchum-Sung, the day’s lesson was on shamanic music. Her largest point was that the music used by hereditary shamans is often much more elaborate/sophisticated because they have been training throughout their life, whereas the spirit-descended (spirit infected/possessed) shamans often have to play catch up quickly, though they do sometimes hire the musicians of the hereditary shamans (often relatives of hereditary shamans) to accompany them. She offered an opportunity to attend a performance by her TA 기쁨 Gibbeum (seriously, I saw it written) and other students, I accepted. After class we bus/subway-ed our way to 북천 Bukcheon (a traditional neighborhood near 인사동 Insadong) and the small (approximately 80 seat) 창우극장 Changwoo Theatre. After a delay Gibbeum and her group (she’s the leader) of three women and three men singing 가곡 gagok accompanied by several musical instruments (양금, 장구, 가야금, 징 and probably others, I was really focusing on the singers) began the performance. They sang two extremely interesting pieces, her group is called 월하가인 Wolha Ga-in if you have a chance, see them. Then another group, called 아나야 Anaya played and sang several totally put-me-to-sleep numbers which could best be described as soft jazz with some Korean instruments (mostly overpowered by the guitar, bass, top hat & snare and chimes). In other words, I am not recommending this group, although competent, they were not exciting. [Anaya on Youtube, some of this is better than what they did today by far example 1, example 2, example 3]

After late lunch with Hilary I rushed home, grabbed a change of clothes, 미투리 mituri and 한삼 hansam and left for 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum. On Thursdays we practice in the largest room on the 9th floor (북청사자놀음 uses the really large practice room above the theatre on that day), so I always visit the 봉산탈춤보존회 Bongsan Talchum Bojonhoi (Preservation Association) office before class. Today when I got there 원중 was jumping up and down to tell me he had made it to the second round in his application to the Korean National University of the Arts. So now I can tell you about the first audition.

There were 39 students who applied as specialists in 풍물 pungmul performance of some kind—they chose a piece on 장구 janggu, 꽹과리 ggwaenggwari, to show off 상모 sangmo skills while playing 소고 sogo or other such piece for their audition. Four students did mask dance, three 봉산 Bongsan and one did 강령탈춤 Gangnyeong Talchum. Six students did 무속 musok (shamanic performance and Won Jung didn’t have any details about what specifically they did, so sorry, I’m not sure) and three students did some aspect of 남사당 Namsadang. On the first day they all played 설장구 seoljanggu (while sitting) and on the second day they did the specialties listed above. Five test examiners sat in a row and watched them, with 김덕수 Kim Deoksu (a professor at the university), one of the most famous janggu players in Korea, a founder of the group 사물놀이 Samulnoli in 1978, and the child of a Namsadang 인간문화재 National Human Treasure, sitting directly in the center his arms crossed and his brow puckered in a frown. Won Jung told me he was so scared he even screwed up the easiest part of the beginning of seoljanggu. After he did his mask dance solo on the second day they asked him to sing the song that is sung by 취발이 Chuibali, the character he danced, and after he ended told him he’d done well. Of all these students (my math makes is 52) only 13 can enter the university. That must mean that 23 advanced to the second round, because Won Jung told me that ten more will be eliminated after the second round of auditions, to be held on Monday. At that time Won Jung has to sing, not his strongest point. I really hope he can make it. [video of 김덕수 Kim Deoksu playing 설장구 seoljanggu)

photo: Won Jung showed me the results on the computer, he was pretty pleased with himself.

Bongsan Talchum practice was pretty ordinary, we worked on the daesa of the 3먹중 (third dark faced monk) and practiced all the other normal stuff. 수미 Sumi, who has been absent, is back since her high school midterms are now over.

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