He's Busy Bridging Old and New Music
Attempts to create fusions of old and new music are not unusual in Korea, where centuries-old instruments are used to unite young demonstrators and IT work-ers sometimes take changgo (hour-glass-
shaped drum) lessons in the evenings. Eugene Park, a Korean-American crossover electric violinist, takes the musical evolution a mutation further with his "Modern Meets Traditional" series of concerts in collabora-tion with a group of traditional musicians.
"The first time I heard the authentic sound and rhythm of Korea was when I saw a performance by Kim Duk-su back in the United States,'' Mr. Park said. "Although I was young, I was so excited that I decided that I must come and learn about it."
His fascination with Kim Duk-su's samulnori - music played on traditional percussion instruments by a four-member ensemble, itself a reworking of traditional Korean farmers' ryhthms - inspired this 25-year-old man, born and raised in the United States, to match these two seemingly unmatched genres this fall.
Encouraged by his passion for Korean music, some of the nation's greatest musicians agreed to take part in Mr. Park's 20-day concert tour. They include Lee Saeng-gang, taekum(large flute) player and Intangible Cultural Asset No. 45, and Park Soon-kum, Korean opera singer and Intangible Cultural Asset No. 57.
Onstage, Mr. Park plays the electric violin in har-mony with the sounds of the kayagum (12-stringed Korean harp) and the taekum, and is accompanied by the graceful Korean opera and mask dance, performed by the Hanmuri Dance Group.
"To be an ethnic geographical musician who bridges old and contemporary is my ultimate goal and mission in Korea," Mr. Park said. "Just like scientists, artists must struggle to change the world, and instead of just another fancy show, they should provide people with a glimpse of a new culture, a stage where people can share their cultural experiences." Born in 1975 in New York, Mr. Park entered Juilliard School at 8 on a full scholarship and made his debut at Lincoln Center at 13.
His tour in Korea began on Oct. 18, in Yosu, South Cholla Province, and will come to a finale at the Chongdong Event Hall on Dec. 2 and 3. For more infor-mation, call the TSI Agency at 02-501-5153.
by Kim Jae-seon