Jihyun Park, is aware that her audience this weekend might include many who have never experienced Korean traditional music before. Along with her musical partner Minyoung Kim, she forms the South Korean musical duo ReMidas, which will join join 17 other independent acts from countries like Mozambique, Chile, Canada, the US, India, Mexico, Portugal and more at the third edition of Culturas 360, an online musical festival.
Over email from Seoul, she describes her instrument of choice that helps her lend a contemporary edge to traditional music. Made from a hardwood tree native to Southeast Asia, the “Gayageum has a large rectangular base made of Paulownia wood. It had 12 silk strings originally, but these days it has been improved, so 25-string Gayageum have also been developed and are used a lot these days,” she writes.
On the other hand, her partner Minyoung Kim will be bringing forth the magic of the Geomungo, an instrument with six strings. “It is a percussion instrument that makes sounds with bamboo sticks. The meaning of Geomungo is ‘black string instrument’, named so because a black crane flew and danced when the instrument was first invented,” explains Jihyun.
The duo is deliberate in their quest to create improvisational contemporary music with the use of traditional Korean instruments, while drawing influences from multiple current and ancient cultures, including their own. It is an ideal that is oddly similar to that of Rehmat-E-Nusrat, a Qawwali group based in Uttarakhand, India, that pays homage to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and other greats while also creating their own compositions and taking the story of Qawwali forward in today’s time.
Sarvjeet Tamta, founder and main vocalist of Rehmat-E-Nusrat, reiterates the role of Sufism in promoting peace, and states how, in today’s climate, embracing the music of Qawwali alone is not enough. The group, since its formation in 2014, has made it to prominent stages across the country including leading social and literary festivals. This weekend, however, Sarvjeet is eager to sit back and take in the magic of musical forms he has not experienced before.
Rehmat-e-Nusrat and ReMidas (the latter supported by Chennai-based InKo Centre) are two of the musical talents brought to this stage by Indian festival IndiEarth Xchange. The third and final act in its roster is Mauritius-based fusion seggae (a blend of reggae with sega, the traditional music of the Mascarene Islands) band Jerry N The Resistance.
Other acts include KUNÉ, a Toronta-based orchestra that features musicians and instruments from countries as far apart as Ukraine, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Greece and Peru. Sometimes referred to as Canada’s global orchestra, KUNÉ comprises musicians who hail from all those countries and more, but are currently residing in the greater Toronto area.
Culturas 360 goes live on March 26 and 27 at 8.30 pm IST. For details, visit culturas360.com.