The Korea Herald


ARKO Selection introduces 3 meditative music concerts, 2 plays, 1 opera

Two plays highlight lesser-known female independent activists

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Jan. 4, 2024 - 17:50

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ARKO Selection's first set of six productions scheduled for early to mid-January include three meditative music concerts, two plays highlighting female independence fighters's activities, and one darkly reimagined opera.

The productions are among the 28 new repertoires supported by Arts Council Korea, an organization committed to fostering diverse arts and cultural activities in the country.

"Minyo Cello" (Arts Council Korea)

"Minyo Cello" will take place Saturday at the ARKO Arts Theater in Daehakro, Seoul, presenting Korean traditional folk songs using five cellos and band music.

Composer and cellist Lim Yi-hwan, who also goes by the name of Big Violin Player, will present a contemporary reinterpretation, challenging preconceptions about the cello by incorporating jazz harmonies into traditional Korean rhythms.

"The cello has a wide pitch range, third (widest) after the piano and harp. I hope the audience will discover the diverse sounds and techniques that the cello can produce," said Lim.

"Play of Water" (Arts Council Korea)
"Man, Jung, Sak and Man -- Memories of Forgotten Tempo" (Arts Council Korea)

Additionally, two traditional performances will provide a meditative experience through Korean traditional music.

A "l'art pour l'art's" traditional art performance, titled "Man, Jung, Sak and Man -- Memories of Forgotten Tempo," is scheduled for Jan. 12-13 at the ARKO Arts Theater.

The terms "mandaeyeop," "jungdaeyeop," and "sakdaeyeop" refer to the musical tempos used in the Goryeo era (918–1392), with mandaeyeop representing the slowest tempo.

“There is a record in ancient documents that the mandaeyeop disappeared because it was too slow. We started with the curiosity of how slow it must have been to vanish and created it as meditative music that can foster rest for modern people living busy lives,” said its music director Kim Go-eun.

In the following week, on Jan. 20-21, another meditative traditional performance, "Play of Water" will portray the circular breath of traditional rhythms flowing like water.

“The performance features over 20 traditional and contemporary percussion instruments,” said Lee Sang-kyung from the three-member ensemble, groove&.

Lighting and video design inspired by water, and a Korean traditional dancer will accompany the performance.

“Dear Son” (Arts Council Korea) “Dear Son” (Arts Council Korea)
"Bari on the Hill" (Arts Council Korea)

Two new theatrical productions, both centered around lesser-known female independence fighters, emphasize portraying the more human side of these women beyond the typical images associated with such historical figures.

"Bari on the Hill" (directed by Kim Jeong, open Jan. 6-14) weaves the story of Ahn Kyung-shin, who, as a pregnant woman, became involved in bomb-throwing, with the Korean myth of Bari, the goddess guiding souls to the afterlife. The play reconstructs their stories, bridging fiction and reality.

“Dear Son” (directed by Kim Soo-hee, open Jan. 13-21) puts the spotlight on Alice Hyun, who was born in 1903 in Hawaii and engaged in independence activities while traveling between China, Russia and the US. The play unfolds in the form of an interview with a fictional journalist.

Adding to this cultural mix, the Ulsan Munsoo Opera Company presents its original opera, "3 and 1/2 A," at the National Theater of Korea on Jan. 11-12. Inspired by "Cinderella," the opera explores themes of deficiency and desire from the perspective of Cinderella's two stepsisters.