I took this picture after Gang Seung-ui’s (강승의) first full-length presentation. It shows her with her teacher Song Sun-seop (송순섭) and the drummer of the second half, Bak Geun-yeong (박근영, the first drummer was Gang Ye-jin 강예진).
The concert was very special to me, as I had learnt the (short) pansori song Sacheolga (사철가, “Song of the Four Seasons”) from Gang Seung-ui last summer but had never seen her live on stage.
She performed Jeokbyeok-ga (적벽가, “Song of the Red Cliff”) at KOUS (한국문화의집). Without real intermission, except for the flying change of the drummer, she sang for almost three hours. I knew the general plot of Jeokbyeok-ga, a war epic set in China, and had seen other full-lenght performances (I wrote about one of them by Yun Jin-cheol 윤진철 for the Jeonju Sori Festival’s blog, you can find a recording of, presumably, the exact same performance on Youtube), but it was great to hear this rather rare piece sung by a familiar voice. Especially the “Fight Song” (싸움타령), an energetic depiction of a raging battle by the soldiers (pansori can be quite “meta”!), was fascinating. Also, it seems that this piece in particular has been transmitted (or edited) in quite different versions, as many parts sounded unfamiliar. (You can find the lyrics of some versions, inc. English translations, online, courtesy of the Jeonju Sori Festival)
There were many famous pansori singers present, too, including my teacher’s teachers, Song Sun-seop (송순섭) and Kim Hak-yong (김학용). Kim Hak-yong is a member of the National Changgeuk Company (국립창극단) and I’ve seen him in many performances. Song Sun-seop is one of the most esteemed singers alive and has a very distinctive sonorous voice (and a stylish beard). When he came on stage to congratulate his student—and to receive a deep bow from her—, he mentioned that he didn’t call any chuimsae because, if I understood him correctly, that would have been too stressful. After all, he is well over seventy (you wouldn’t know that from his performances, for example a short part from Jeokbyeok-ga he sang earlier this year; there are also some excerpts from earlier full-length performances available on Youtube, looks like someone digitalised some old video tapes).
The other audience members, including the members of Gang Seung-ui’s pansori-club Sori Maru (소리마루) , where great at chuimsae-shouting and the atmosphere was great! An important step for my teacher and a wonderful performance for everyone else.
— 17 May 2014 (土)