Sonnet of an Innocent Flower 2013
Music and Dance of the Chosun Kisaeng
곱고도 고운 모습, 달아래 걸어가니,
비단 소매에 바람이 일어나네,
무엇보다 사랑스런 것은, 꽃앞의 자태에
임금께서는 다정스런 마음을 맡기시네
A beauty strolls under the bright moon,
A breeze moves colorful sleeves lightly.
With the most beautiful movement, Hwajŏnt’ae,
I appeal to the King’s love.
During the half millennium reign of the Choson Kingdom in Korea (1392-1910), there was a class of women whose fate was both appalling and seductive. The kisaeng, sometimes translated as “skilled women,” were selected from an early age for their beauty, given extensive education in poetry, music, the arts, and dance, trained in the skills of courtesanship, and then assigned as professional entertainers to the court and the high government bureaucracy. The Changak-won, one of the national institutes specializing in court performing arts, selected the most talented entertainers, kisaeng, from eight local provinces for annual court ceremonies or events. The selected entertainers were officially named Sonsang-gi. They had been trained in a music and dance tradition completely different from the existing court and folk forms. As a result, they played a unique and valuablerole in the development and preservation of culture and arts in Korea.
About the Performer
Han TeRra is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding and exceptional kayago (12-string zither) musicians in Korea. Ms. Han began her training in classical Korean music and traditional performing arts, including singing and dancing, at the age of five. Additionally she has studied traditional performing arts of Japan and China. Active as a concert soloist at age 12, Ms. Han has received numerous awards and fellowships, such as the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and the Asian Cultural Council in New York. She also serves as an honorary ambassador of the Korean Center for International Affairs, member of the Korean Zither’s Association, and member of Asian Musicology. In order to expand her understanding of the kayago and its repertory, Ms. Han has researched other Asian zither traditions including the Japanese koto, the Chinese jaeng, and North Korea's music represented in China. Ms. Han has been trained at the National School for Korean Traditional Performing Arts which is presently following the Changak-won since at the age of 12 and holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Seoul National University. Ms. Han is currently completing the requirements for the D.M.A. degree in kayago performance from Seoul National University.
About the Speaker
David R. McCann is Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His books of translations include Azaleas, a book of poems by Kim Sowôl (2007), Traveler Maps: Poems by Ko Un (2004), The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry (2004), and Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions (2001). He has published his own poetry in a number of journals. His recent books of poems include a chapbook, Cat Bird Tree (Pudding House Publications, 2004), The Way I Wait For You (Codhill Press, 2007), and a collection of poems in the sijo form, Urban Temple (Bo Leaf Books, 2010), which was also published in a dual-language, Korean and English edition by Changbi Publishers in 2012.
Here is professor McCann singing "Azalea", a poem by Sowol Kim (1902-1934) set to the traditional song "Barb'ra Ellen".
The Complete Concert with accompanying lectures [1hr 7min]
Individual Pieces from the concert
Court Dance “Ch’unaengjon” 春鶯囀 (Song of the Oriole)
Court Instrumental Music “YŏMillak” 與民樂 (Pleasure with the People)
Folk Vocal Music “Sarangga” 사랑가 Love Song from Ch’unhyangga 春香歌
Folk Instrumental Music “Kayago Sanjo” (伽倻琴 散調) Han TeRra school
Improvisational Folk Dance “Ipch’um” (입춤)
Lectures on Korean Sijo by Professor McCann
Interview with TeRra and Professor McCann
More Performances by TeRra at the Korean Cultural Festival