Liberation Day concert to have distinctive voice

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Liberation Day concert to have distinctive voice

"Our Dae Han Min Guk" is the title of a concert to be held Thursday at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Seoul. So it's about soccer, or patriotism, right?

Wrong. The concert is not a belated pep rally to stir up support for the national soccer team, nor a Liberation Day celebration. It's a performance by Jang Sa-ik, 53, who chose the name just because he wanted to. You can do that when it's your concert.

Jang has a very distinctive singing style, and it's hard to categorize it. It's not jazz, classical, pop or traditional folk music. Some say his style falls somewhere between pop and traditional. Still, ask if it's one of those styles and people will shake their heads.

Back to the title: "Originally, the concert was to be called 'A Wind Blowing Over the Mountains,' Jang explained. But since it was scheduled for Thursday's Liberation Day holiday, and because the World Cup fever is still around, I thought I should change the title to take advantage of all that atmosphere."

Jang will be backed by the New Seoul Philharmonic, which will give more depth and range to his songs. The lyrics of the songs cover a wide range of topics. "A Dreaming World" is about the importance of protecting the environment, and "Father" deals with love at home.

It took Jang a while to take to an orchestra behind him. "I used to think of an orchestra as just a bunch of Western-style instruments," he said. "But as I listened more, I realized how powerful it is, and thought it would be a good match."

Jang is not exactly a born singer; he worked for a trading company, an insurance company and a car repair center, and a couple of other jobs, before finally going professional with his voice. His first big concert was in Seoul in 1994. Around that time he was keeping busy by winning traditional singing contests. Though he never studied music at the college level, he attended a music institute in the late '60s.

In accord with his free spirit, Jang says he doesn't have a set songlist for the concert. He'll open with a one-on-one jazzy call-and-response with the orchestra, he says, then wing it: "My opening song will be 'Our wish is reunification,' but after that anything goes I guess."

Jang is planning to record his fourth album in the fall.

Reservations can be made at 02-396-0514.

by Kim Jung-soo

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