Concert celebrates diversity
A musical celebration of Korean culture featuring fan dancing, traditional chamber music and “Gangnam Style” was played to a standing ovation at Bakersfield High School’s Harvey Auditorium.
The Korean American Association of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Sister City Project put on the show jointly. It occurred on Oct. 13 and was titled “A Special Performance by Traditional Korean Dancers & Musicians.”
Musicians and citizens from Bucheon, Korea performed and watched the performance.
John Hefner, the president of The Sister City Project, said that the performance is meant to be a bridge of understanding between two cultures.
“The goal is to provide a wonderful cultural evening, not just for Korean American citizen,s but also for all the friends and people that came from Bucheon,” he said. “That’s what Sister City is all about, finding the cultures of each other, having a good time.
“We’re going to go to Korea on an exchange program, and we’ll know all these people. It won’t be like we’re seeing strangers.”
Many different types of Korean dancing and music occurred at the event. The dances included Buchaechum, a colorful fan dance that symbolizes nature and its beauty. It also included dances that depicted Korean folk tales, such as the creative “Zinna” dance, and wallpapers of royal tombs.
If audience reaction can be any judge, the highlight of the performance was the chamber music portion of the concert.
It featured many traditional Korean instruments, like the Gayageum and Geomungo. These instruments are stringed zither instruments that look similar to a lap-steel guitar. Kim Hyoung-Min played the Daegum and Sogeum. They are traditional bamboo flutes. His family member Kim Eun-Sun played the Geomungo.
The chamber performed folk songs like the rhythmic “Neoyeong Nayeong.” The song tells the story of love among the Jeju people. As a symbol of the bridging of cultures that occurred that night, the chamber closed the night with a medley of “Arirang” and “Amazing Grace.” “Arirang” is a very popular folk song that is considered by many as the unofficial national anthem of Korea.
The director of the chamber, Song Yong-Cheol, wished to expose people to the instruments of Korea and remind Korean Americans of home.
“I came in order to share the traditional instruments of Korea,” said Yong-Cheol. “I want to remind the Koreans that are living here a little taste of home, and remind them of what life in Korea was like through music.”
As a change of pace, the youth at The Korean American Association of Bakersfield performed a 20-plus-group dance of the popular “Gangnam Style” dance. Josh Shin, a former Bakersfield College student who now studies at CSUB, who performed the dance in a suit and sunglasses similar to PSY, the singer who performs “Gangnam Style,” led them. Putting together and practicing the dance took about six weeks.
Shin talked about his experience performing “Gangnam Style” at the concert.
“I could see less because I wear glasses and when I put on my sunglasses I can’t see anything,” said Shin. “So it was like I was dancing and having fun by myself. I could still hear people cheering though,” he said. Shin’s favorite part of the dance is the end. At the end of the dance, all the dancers freeze on a dramatic pose.
“That’s the best part. When we get it right, it looks so good.”
Maria Pace is a 23-year-old BC music student who has a lifelong love of Korean culture. She first fell in love with the culture as a child in Spain. She left her family in Spain to move to America and learn more about Korea and Korean Culture. When she thanked Kim Hyoung-Min, she was crying and visibly emotional. For Pace, the performance was a fulfillment of a dream.
“I was waiting for this my whole life,” she said. “For it to finally become real, it’s so heart filling. I’m crying but at the same time I’m smiling because inside its a really great feeling. I wanted to see it in person with my own eyes and experience it. It was much better than what I thought it was going to be.”