Open Stage: Jeeyoung Kim

Friday, September 2, 2016 at 7:30PM

Korean Cultural Center New York

Tickets : Free (w/ online RSVP) 

“...The most fascinating and beautiful segment came after intermission, a commissioned piece by Jeeyoung Kim called "Tryst. In this piece, Korean musician played Kayagum and sang, according to Yo-Yo Ma, of "the yearning and anguish of courtly love." Yo- Yo Ma and oboist accompanied her, offering delicate melodic counterpoint to the music's main thrust. Even to the untrained ear, there was no mistaking the elegance and poignancy of this music. The delicate, plangent tones of the Kayaagum, with their contrast between sharp attack and sinuous decay, were mesmerizing, and the singer's forceful, sometimes guttural singing lent urgency to the music's air of refinement.” - San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman

“...The most striking was the premiere performance of a work commissioned by Ethos with Jerome Foundation Funding, Jeeyoung Kim's "Man Follows the Earth." Spare and airy in some passages, Kim's composition is fiery in others. From skin instruments like drums to clanging, pinding metal materials, Ethos elicited a balanced universal a soothing heartbeat gave way to universe: a soothing heartbeat gave way to urgent signals, gradually melting into the joyous rhythms of raindrops and, by implication, the primal stew. Elements met and merged in the work that drew on Korean court and folk music for its subtle statement of mankind's place in time, and in the universe.” - Daily Journal, Laura Stewart

Jeeyoung Kim / Composer & Producer
Rami Seo / Gayageum player
Sooyeon Lyuh / Haegeum player
Dongmin Kim / Conductor
Yunah Lee / Soprano
Eunjoo Lee-Huls / Mezzo-soprano
Yong Kyung Park / Mezzo-soprano
Ha Lim Kim / Moving Image

Alex Boyd / Baritone
Michael Fennelly / Opera Coaching & Conductor


1. Engraft for Haegeum and string Orchestra
2. Tryst for Oboe, Cello, and Gayageum with female voice
3. Lullaby of the Waves for String Orchestra
The opera "From My Mother's Mother"

Notes on the Program
This program presents Jeeyoung Kim’s music and how her cultural and literary background as a Korean-American composer shapes her work. Kim’s music illustrates her engagement with Korean literature and culture in her native country as well as her experience living in the U.S. Growing up in Korea and living in the U.S. gave her broad understanding of cultures, and sharing her music with an open-minded audience at Open Stage is the ideal opportunity to bring together generations and cultures through music.

1. Engraft for Haegeum and string Orchestra
Engraft means to incorporate in a firm or permanent way. Just like engrafting branches for the tree to bear more fruits, Kim has constantly tried to find her original voice through engrafting her sounds; she has grafted writing music based in the U.S., where she has been living, and music from Korea where she was born and raised. This piece is a resolutional climax, arriving to a harmonious whole after internal conflicts.

2. Tryst for Oboe, Cello, and Gayageum with female voice
Tryst was commissioned by the Silk Road Ensemble led by Yo-Yo Ma and inspired by poems written in c.a. 1591 by Chul Jung (1536-1593) and Ok Chin. Jung was a famous scholar and writer who was in exile and living in a small village, Kanggye, when he wrote this poem. Chin was a gisaeng, a combination of professional entertainer, performing artist, and courtesan. Jung’s name means ‘pure iron’ while Chin’s name means ‘true jade.’ The gayageum player performs the instrument and later sings in Korean traditional style (byeongchang). Rhythmically this piece uses several jangdan (traditional Korean rhythmic pattern) such as salpuri (3+3+2+2+2), utmori (3+2+3+2), and dongsalpuri (4/4).

3. Lullaby of the Waves for String Orchestra
The final piece of the first half is for a string orchestra. We are living in a world of many heartbreaking events, whether from war, terrorism, or other causes, and it is especially heartbreaking when the victims are young. This piece is a special dedication to comfort and support the young lost souls and their families. Over the past years, several tragic events have occurred. The first was the Sewol Ferry disaster in April 2014 that claimed the lives of over 250 high school students in Korea. A few months later, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the Alps, taking the lives of all 150 passengers, including many high school exchange students. Also, in the same month, terrorists in Kenya killed 147 people, many of them college students. “Waves” are a metaphor for those lost in the sea and the sky and also for the way their loss impacts our lives.

This piece has three sections: the first, “Elegy,” begins with a lyrical melody which resembles a traditional Korean singing style as it comforts the lost souls. The melodic line moves like waves and incorporates rhythmic music that represents the vibrant lives of the young victims; the second, “Lullaby,” includes a famous Korean lullaby (Seomjib Agi, translated to ‘A Baby in a Seashore Cottage’) in which a baby falls asleep listening to the waves and winds while the mother (a haenyeo, female diver) has gone to collect oysters in the sea; and the third, “Hope,” is a compilation of musical elements representing the foundations of our hope for overcoming the grief, and ends with a buzzing sound produced by high notes that represent a child’s happy and relaxed humming.

The opera "From My Mother's Mother"
The story is about the attempt to pass down, and rejection of, a Korean tradition through four generations of Korean-American women living in the US. The tradition is one where Korean women, post-birth, are given seaweed soup prepared by their mother, which is believed to assist in their recovery. Coincidentally, this seaweed soup is also eaten on a person's birthday. Composer Ms. Kim says, “The story reminds me of the love and sacrifice of my grandmother and mother as well as the relationship with my daughter, who was both born and raised in New York.” Although the opera is based on a Korean-American family, the theme is universal since it touches love and reconciliation through one mother providing something to help her daughter, only to face rejection. This opera was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera. This was written for four singers and six instruments including the gayageum.

For more information or any question, please contact 212-759-9550 or 

Miro Yoon