Orchestra captures sounds of nature

A traditional orchestral performance is set to release the sounds of nature as replicated by traditional wind and stringed instruments at the National Theater of Korea on November 29 and 30.

“Part of Nature” is a creative musical piece composed by Chung Il-yeon, a Korean-German musician. The piece consists of six movements: the Birth of Tones, Breath, Hands, Heart, Name and Spirit.

As the title suggests, the work regards human beings as being part of nature and attempts to explore the relationship between humans and nature. 

For the upcoming concerts, the National Orchestra of Korea will take three of the six movements-- the Birth of Tones, Hands and Spirit-- and bring forth the sounds of nature with its traditional instruments. 

The prelude, “Birth of Tones,” will be presented with stringed and wind instruments along with a wide variety of sounds created by the pyeongyeong, a traditional Korean lithophone, or stone xylophone, with 16 L-shaped stone pieces. 

It will be followed by the third movement, “Hands,” which was composed as a concerto for a gayageum, a 12-stringed zither, and a geomungo, a six-stringed one. 

With subtle, though sometimes strong, plucked string action by the hands, the two performers will show off with breathtaking virtuosity the harmonious ensemble created by the two musical tools. 

The last movement, “Spirit,” will be performed as the final piece, where a four-member samulnori troupe of traditional percussionists will draw gasps of excitement from the crowd. They will introduce the audience to the distinctive rhythms of the “Korean spirit,” created this time by the hourglass-shaped janggu drum, the gong-like jing and the kkwaenggwari, a small, flat higher-pitched gong. 

“This performance casts light on the natural sounds that traditional Korean musical instruments can make,” said composer Chung while explaining his “Part of Nature.” “In particular, you can hear the unique tones embellished with great control of vibrato on the geomungo and gayageum.” 

Alongside this performance, two pieces, one each created by composers Kim Dae-sung and Ahn Hyun-jeong, will be played for the first time. 

Kim’s “Back to Heaven” (unofficial translation) describes the mental conflict, such as sorrow, anxiety or fear, that is felt by all human beings, with sounds generated by both stringed and wind instruments. It is sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes intense and piercing. 

Ahn’s creation, “Flow and Flow” (unofficial translation), will allow listeners to feel the melodies flowing like water from the musicians’ tools. Accompanied by a singer, the two additional tunes will add to the overall work’s profoundness and emotion. 

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