Pansori master Ahn to stage concert
By Do Je-hae
Fans of pansori, Korea’s traditional storytelling through song, will have a chance to hear Ahn Sook-sun, one of the most popular divas of the genre, in concert this month.
The 63-year-old singer, who divides her time between teaching at the Korea National University of Arts, will give a recital at the National Theater of Korea, Nov. 15.
Her performance is the latest in a monthly series of “Noon Concerts” organized by the theater to popularize pansori and other types of traditional Korean music.
Ahn will sing some “minyo,” or folk songs, and some excerpts from pansori masterpieces including “Sugungga.”
“Sugungga” stems from a tale about a terrapin and a rabbit in the early period of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-935 A.D.). The theme of this story is the relationship of subjects to the king. The work is one of the five surviving stories — the other four are “Shimcheongga,” “Heungbuga,” “Jeokbyeokga,” and “Chunhyangga.”
The noon program was designed to promote Korea’s traditional music by presenting it in a more familiar style. The program is consisted of folksongs, contemporary music, and original sound tracks of soap operas and films rearranged by the theater’s “gukak” (traditional Korean music) orchestra with a modern flare.
The prima donna of gukak has been at the forefront of globalizing pansori. She has held concerts in major cities in Asia, Europe and North America.
During the opening performance of the World Festival of National Theaters in September, She was featured in a special production of “Sugungga” directed by world-renowned German art director Achim Freyer.
The production is a result of Freyer’s unique attempt at transforming pansori into a new art form called “pansori opera.”
This performance is scheduled to be staged in Germany in December and in other European countries next year.
One of the nation’s foremost gukak musicians, Ahn was born into a musical family in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, a major center of Korean traditional arts.
A former child prodigy, she’s been a regular presence at traditional musical festivals nationwide. At age 20, she moved to Seoul to study pansori as a student of Kim So-hui, one of great Pansori singers (1917-1995).
Tickets for the noon concerts are 10,000 won. For more information on the program, visit www.ntok.go.kr or call (02) 2280-4114.