A three-movement concerto, composed for gamin, playing piri, saenghwang, and taepyongso
Soloist with chamber orchestra / 20 min.
This concerto is inspired by gugak, the traditional music of Korea, which I have studied for over a decade; and by the artistry of gugak artist gamin, for whom I composed the work. She is a virtuoso who excels not only in traditional performance, but also in collaboration with Western classical musicians and with improvisers of all stripes. This concerto takes advantage of gamin’s versatility, featuring the piri (a simple and highly expressive oboe, with no keys, just seven holes), saenghwang (a plaintive 17-pipe mouth organ), and taepyongso (a trumpet-like double reed normally played as part of a percussion ensemble).
The piri introduces itself with a cadenza to open the first movement, which proceeds in dancing meters inspired by sinawi, an improvisatory form that traditionally accompanies shamanistic rites. The saenghwang carries the second movement, swelling in warm harmonies and singing a lonely song inspired by the imposing mountains and isolated valleys of the Korean peninsula. The finale conjures the sound of samulnori, a relatively recent popularization of pungmul, or farmers’ music. The taepyongso opens this raucous, percussion-driven movement with a fanfare. The piri takes us through a series of episodes, each faster than the last, leading to a cadenza. The piercing tones of the taepyongso return for a final rush to the finish.
Commissioned by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and composed during the summer of 2023, this work is infused with the warmth and leisure of the summer season.