Artists come home to intimate spaces

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Artists come home to intimate spaces


The Lee Han-cheol Band performs a house concert at the home of Park Chang-soo in Yeonhui-dong, Seoul. By Kwon Hyuk-jae

In most performances, there are boundaries between the performers and the audience, between the imaginary world created onstage and the place where the audience is seated. In this setting, direct communication between performer and audience is often impossible or even taboo.

But two weeks ago, during a traditional Korean music concert at Gareheon, a private art center in Sindang-dong, someone shouted out, “This is a bit of a drag. Can you do something more exciting?”

Sounds like an impolite thing to say, but the performer happily launched into some pansori, a traditional Korean song style similar to opera.

It turns out these kinds of concerts are everywhere. Known here as “house concerts,” they are held at private residences, on rooftops or at small cafes or restaurants.

Without the usual boundaries between the stage and theater seating, performers and audience members are free to interact, with spectators asking questions and performers responding when they see fit. On some occasions, the cycle of call and response can even lead to an extended conversation between them.

After the show, performers and audience members mingle, creating a light and friendly atmosphere.

House concerts in Korea originated from the concept of salons in Europe, where aristocrats invited musicians under their sponsorship to their homes to perform. However, salons were not only for the privileged. They were also enjoyed by the masses and even acted as a venue for performances by newly discovered talent.

Local house concerts emulate this atmosphere of openness. People who attend are often surprised to find the space occupied by well-known musicians and performers or to discover the passion of artists who are lesser known.

The air is charged with an air of creative energy and there is a shudder of excitement that runs through these small spaces, a feeling that lingers well into the night.

By Lee Ka-young, Han Eun-hwa
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