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From words to 'pansori' and music : Artistic performances inspired by literature performed at SIWF

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Sept. 14, 2023 - 19:15

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Pansori singer Kim Jun-soo performs during the opening ceremony at the Seoul International Writers' Festival, in Seoul on Friday. (SIWF, LTI Korea) Pansori singer Kim Jun-soo performs during the opening ceremony at the Seoul International Writers' Festival, in Seoul on Friday. (SIWF, LTI Korea)

Literary works served as an inspiration for various forms of three-dimensional readings, folk songs and "pansori" during the festival.

The beauty of literature is that literary worlds can be expanded and reinterpreted into different forms, inspiring artists working in various genres. Two days of evening performances on Sept. 9 and 10 included a pansori performance, a music concert and a reading performance inspired by the works of writers who participated in this year’s SIWF.

On the evening of Sept. 9, pansori singer Lee So-yeon from the National Changgeuk Company kicked off the event by reinterpreting Jeong Ji-a’s “Father’s Liberation Diary.” The main plot of the novel, which revolves around the father’s death and funeral, as well as the stories of various characters intertwined with him, was expressed in a concise, powerful and humorous manner.

When a poem meets a melody, it becomes a song. The free and honest poetic words from poet Baek Eun-sun’s poetry collection, “The Person Who Doesn’t Open Boxes,” were turned into a song, with the entire audience reading out lines that became a chorus, softly filling the music hall.

Pansori singer Lee So-yeon performs “Father’s Liberation Diary. Pansori singer Lee So-yeon performs “Father’s Liberation Diary." (SIWF, LTI Korea)
Pansori singers Lee Gwang-bok (left) and Cho Yu-a perform “The Chronicle of a Blood Merchant. Pansori singers Lee Gwang-bok (left) and Cho Yu-a perform “The Chronicle of a Blood Merchant." (SIWF, LTI Korea)

On Sept. 10, pansori singers Lee Gwang-bok and Cho Yu-a performed "changgeuk," a Korean traditional opera with pansori singing, incorporating “Poverty Song” and “Preparing Food” from the Korean pansori, “Heungbuga,” with the story of Xu, the blood merchant, from Yu Hua’s “The Chronicle of a Blood Merchant.” The pair portrayed the scenes vividly and jovially, eliciting delight and laughter from the audience.

Haegeum player Kang Eun-il and composer-percussionist Han Jin-gu performed a music concert inspired by the poem “I Love You Like an Old Street” by Jin Eun-young. Modern dancer-choreographer Lee Yun-jeong performed a dance to the music.

Andrew Porter’s “Connecticut” was performed in a reading performance on Sept. 9, while Bernardine Evaristo’s “Girl, Woman, Other” was performed on Sept. 10.