Experience the Enchanting Sounds of Pansori at the Jeonju International Sori Festival

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Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of captivating music as the Jeonju International Sori Festival brings the mesmerizing sounds of pansori to life in a grand celebration. With an impressive lineup of 105 performances, this festival is set to take place from September 15th to 24th at the picturesque Jeonju Hanok Village and various locations across North Jeolla Province.

During a recent press conference held in Seoul, Lee Wang-jun, a member of the festival’s organizing committee, expressed their aim to curate a unique program that offers top-notch performances found nowhere else. As Korean culture continues to garner global recognition, from the influence of K-pop to the success of K-movies and K-classics, it is now time to introduce the world to Korea’s rich musical heritage through the enchanting sounds of “sori,” which means both sound and singing in the context of pansori.

Under the theme of “coexistence and recovery,” this year’s festival will kick off with an extraordinary opening ceremony on September 15th. The event will feature the Jeonju Symphony Orchestra, talented gayageum player Moon Yang-sook, renowned pansori singers Ko Yeong-yeol and Kim Yul-hee, as well as the incredible voices of baritone Kim Gi-hoon and soprano Seo Sun-young.

One of the festival’s highlights is the special program titled “Five Pansori Stages,” showcasing five complete pansori performances by master pansori singers, whose average age is an impressive 82. Among them, Cho Sang-hyun, the oldest singer at 86 years old, will demonstrate the true essence of this captivating art form.

Pansori is a unique form of storytelling through song, where epic tales and folklore dramas are narrated through the powerful vocals of the performers. A full pansori performance can last anywhere from three to eight hours, and at this festival, audiences will have the opportunity to experience renowned pieces such as “Chunhyangga” for five hours, and the shorter “Heungbuga” for three hours. Combined, these five performances will offer a total duration of 20 hours of mesmerizing storytelling through song.

The open courtyard in Dongheon, a beautifully reconstructed space in Jeonju Hanok Village dating back 130 years, will serve as the venue for these complete pansori performances. With limited seating for only 100 lucky attendees, the festival organizers have ensured that the magic of these performances reaches a wider audience through live streaming on YouTube.

In addition to the master singers, the festival will also feature young emerging talents who will offer their unique interpretations of these complete pansori performances. Their fresh perspectives will showcase how the art form is evolving while still honoring its traditional roots. Furthermore, attendees can look forward to creative pansori performances such as “The Old Man and the Sea” by singer Lee Ja-ran, talchum team the Greatest Masque’s rendition of “Othello and Iago,” and captivating musical performances by the ADG7 band.

Clockwise from top left: Singers Kim Il-gu, Kim Su-yeon, Jeong Sun-im, Shin Young-hee and Cho Sang-hyun are scheduled to perform at the Jeonju International Sori Festival. (Photo via the Korea herald)

Prepare to be enthralled as the harmonious melodies of pansori blend with Western classical music during special collaborative performances. Noteworthy artists like Kang Kwon-soon, accompanied by harpsichord player Lee Min-joo, along with renowned cellist Mischa Maisky, cellist-conductor Chang Han-na, and the talented Ditto Orchestra, will create breathtaking musical experiences that transcend boundaries.

Moreover, the festival will also showcase traditional sounds from 13 countries, including performances by artists from Australia and Canada. This global representation adds a diverse and multicultural touch to the event, further enriching the overall experience.

As the 10-day festival nears its conclusion, prepare for a truly unforgettable grand finale. Genre-bending singer Lee Hee-moon, known for pushing artistic boundaries, will collaborate with the band Obangsin, captivating the audience with their innovative and mesmerizing performance.

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Don’t miss out on the chance to be a part of this extraordinary celebration of music and culture. Mark your calendars for the Jeonju International Sori Festival and let the enchanting sounds of pansori transport you to a world of captivating storytelling and timeless melodies.

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