Groups have unique takes on holiday music

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Groups have unique takes on holiday music


Gugak musicians don holiday outfits while recording the album “Listening to Christmas Carols in Gugak.” They will also play live street shows this weekend. [NATIONAL GUGAK CENTER]

When it comes to Christmas and winter holidays, one typically thinks of “The Nutcracker” and other timeless works. The end of the year is usually packed with such well-loved holiday events and performances.

But for those looking for something new, two upcoming shows get in on the holiday spirit while taking a unique approach.

Taking it to the street

These days choral concerts are not so popular, and few are interested in choral music.

“At choral concerts nowadays, singers only sing Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin to an empty audience,” said Jeon Gong-ju, project leader of “Love Insiem,” in a press release.

Run by the Insiem Arts Corporation, an organization that strives to cultivate greater interest in choral, “Love Inisiem” stages concerts on the streets as a means of exposing passersby to the genre.

Launched three years ago, “Love Insiem” has steadily garnered a wider appeal. The upcoming Christmas Eve special will include a mix of the group’s usual repertoire with holiday songs added for the occasion.

“We want to continue showcasing what we’ve been able to do successfully in over 100 shows,” Jeon told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

In addition, group representative Noh Hee-sub said, “We invited a youth choir to sing Christmas carols, and musical singers to share the stage with our regular performers.”

Whereas the program usually relies on minimal to no stage preparation, there will be additional lighting and stage props in keeping with the holiday theme, he added.

A gugak Christmas

Besides choral music, there is also the opportunity to enjoy Christmas carols but in the style of gugak (traditional Korean music).

The National Gugak Center has released a new album, titled “Listening to Christmas Carols in Gugak.” The album features 14 quintessential Christmas carols, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Look Out the Window,” rearranged for traditional Korean instruments such as the gayageum, or traditional zither.

“With the gugak-styled Christmas carols, we aim to deliver the sensibility of Korean music inherent in the rhythm and tone of traditional instruments,” said Kim Hye-suk, director general of the National Gugak Center. “This way, we hope to bring gugak closer to the general public.”

The album can be downloaded from online streaming websites, such as Melon and Mnet.

In addition, the center has arranged street performances this weekend to showcase the innovative gugak covers. Multiple performances will take place throughout the afternoons in hot spots like Daehangno, central Seoul, Shinchon-dong, western Seoul, and near Konkuk University in eastern Seoul.

Furthermore, there will also be gugak trivia, flash mobs and other activities that the audience can participate in while listening to the music.

“Love Insiem” will be staged on Dec. 24 at 5 p.m. at Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul. For more information, visit

The National Gugak Center’s Christmas-themed street performance will be staged from this Friday to Sunday at 2 p.m. at various locations across Seoul. For more information, visit

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