Samulnori P'antasi reflects the collective ideas of Pansori Cantata and fantasy, wherein Korean traditional Samulnori evolves to reshape traditional musical idioms in the forms of musical narrative and jazz. In continuation of Mina's 2019 Pansori Cantata, Gilryungjeon ("The Dream of Gilryung"), the Gugak Jazz Society artists creatively identifies the meaning of "Pansori Cantata" in <Samulnori P'antasi: Seasons>.
About <Samulnori P'antasi: Seasons>
Boston’s night skyline with moonlit waters of the Charles River evokes the magic that inspired Mina Cho’s second musical narrative, Samulnori Fantasy: Seasons. In the style of the Pansori Cantata first introduced in Cho’s 2019 Gilryungjeon (“The Dream of Gilryung”), the narrative takes the form of Korean traditional Pansori [storytelling in voice] with Samulnori [four primary percussion instruments – Jing (big gong), Janggu (drum), Kkwaenggwari (small gong), and Buk (barrel drum)]. Samulnori is a contemporary counterpart of Korean Pungmul (a Korean folk music tradition rooted in the collective farming culture called ‘Dure’) and Namsadang (an itinerant traditional performing arts troupe). Throughout, the piece interweaves Korean traditional music with the sounds of modern jazz and Gospel music.
Seasons features a moon rabbit 'Rain,' whose singing has the power to call forth the rain, and a young woman 'Sunnie,' who studies business in Boston, having abandoned her dream of becoming a master Pansori singer. After celebrating his retirement from 100 years of musical priesthood in Lunar Land, Rain is allowed to travel to the Human World, but for only one night of the full moon. A magical pathway, named 7th Moonstar Street, appears between Lunar Land and the Charles River for Rain’s trip. Upon reaching the Charles River, he meets Sunnie. Powerfully inspired through music and conversation, Rain and Sunnie begin to explore their passion for music and embrace a new season in their lives. In the story, the overarching imagery of Moonstar Street connects seemingly unrelated events in life, embracing the ideal Lunar Land and the human world. The successive movements portray scenes of Lunar Land, of Boston’s Charles River, Sunnie’s funeral, and an ideal world where Sunnie reunites with her loved ones. As the narrative evolves, the spirit of Korean traditional music infused with contemporary music elements resonates with many aspects of life and emotion.
After a well-received premiere of Mina Cho’s first Pansori Cantata, Gilryungjeon (“The Dream of Gilryung”) in 2019, the Gugak Jazz Society members returned to Boston and successfully premiered Samulnori P'antasi: Seasons on September 10, 2022, 7:30pm at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. The concert happened to coincide with the Korean Thanksgiving Day with a full moon, and thus unfolded the story of Seasons.