The 2019 Icon of Korean Tradition
Spreading the beautiful melodies of Korea
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The Brand Prize Award, hosted by The Korean Herald, is given to those who have made a significant achievement in their field over the year. Having been recognized for her efforts with the gayageum, also known as the Korean harp, Park Ji-yun (Department of Korean Traditional Music, Doctorate, '16) was awarded the Grand Prize for the Arts Sector of the 2019 Brand Prize Award. As a traditional musician who has played the gayageum for over 30 years, Park's new goal has been to pass her knowledge on to her students, starting her life as a teacher.
As a musician
Starting with playing the piano during her early years, Park showed a talent for music. She first encountered the gayageum as a hobby, having been attracted by its monophonic features. Switching from the piano to the gayageum when she was 13, it has been over 30 years since Park has played the traditional Korean instrument. During her long years of devotion, Park has managed to make major achievements within the field. Park successfully put on a concert last December with the Seocho Philharmoniker, being the first to have an accompanied performance with a symphony orchestra. (Click to go to the video of Park's accompanied performance)
“The gayageum is often regarded as a boring and dull form of music by many. I wanted to overcome this wrong belief that many carry, and in order to do so, I had to take some new departures,” explained Park. She further explained how the orchestra is often considered main stream within the musical field and, thus, she wanted to show how the gayageum can be successfully collaborated with other more popular forms of music. Park is also preparing two albums which she is planning to release by next year at the latest.
Park stated that her first album is one that is going to focus on the traditional features of the gayageum. Having entered her forties, Park explained that she wanted to record and share her recitals, which have now been accumulated with over 30 years of practice. On the other hand, the second album is to be a duet with the electone, an electronic organ that has features of automatic accompaniments and tone modulation, which is a new challenge to the gayageum. Such efforts show Park’s long desire of bringing the gayageum closer to the public through various innovations, while still stressing its traditional features.
As a professor
Having majored in the gayageum during her high school and college years, Park further pursued her studies at Hanyang University, receiving both her master's and doctorate degrees in the field of traditional Korean music. Park first focused on gaining practical experience by joining an orchestra after her college graduation. After playing with the orchestra until her early thirties, however, Park decided to change her career path towards becoming an instructor and sharing her knowledge of the gayageum.
First starting her teaching career at Gugak National High School, it was during these years that Park became determined to pursue her studies within the field. While studying for her doctorate, Park was also given the opportunity to teach at Hanyang University. In addition to having lessons with the students majoring in Korean traditional music, Park has also taught courses for other majors such as the Department of Composition, as they had to widen their scope of music. During her teaching career, Park stated that it is when her students are praised by others that she feels the most worthwhile.
Now holding an additional post as a professor for the Department of Korean Traditional Music in Hanyang University, Park maintained that her main goal as a professor is to bring honor to both the department and the school. In order to do so, she stated that she will not only pursue her own career in the field of the gayageum, but also help her students become musicians of higher levels within their own field. More than thirty years have passed since she first started playing the gayageum, and it seems as if Park’s passion is filled both as a musician and a professor.
Choi Seo-yong firstname.lastname@example.org
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