SONGS OF THE KISAENG

YEAR

2010

 

INSTRUMENTATION

Soprano, Clarinet, Violin, Cello & Piano

 

DURATION

25 minutes

 

TEXT

Various Korean Poets

English Translated

 

COMMISSIONED BY

Ebb & Flow Arts

 

FIRST PERFORMANCE

November 21, 2011

Rachel Schutz and the

Ebb and Flow Ensemble

PROGRAM NOTE

Songs of the Kisaeng was commissioned by Robert Pollock for the Ebb and Flow Arts. The text draws upon the sijo poetry of the Kisaeng, Korean female artist/entertainers. As slaves of the state, the Kisaeng trade was not unsavory from her modern counterpart. At high levels of society, one might entertain and associate with leading male citizens: noblemen, ministers and scholars. The Kisaeng were trained in art, literature, composition, singing, dancing and conversation. The singing of sijo was common and many of the best sijo have been composed by the Kisaeng. Their poetry is free to express genuine expression, free from political and social governance. The 20 sijo presented here, are taken from a variety of Kisaeng, among most notable is Hwang Jini, whose 6 sijo survive today. Sijo is a very short form of poetry and although the translations in English are set, much is said with very little words. Translating into music, for this cycle of songs, I have strived to compose relatively short pieces that utilize very sparse and simple material to hopefully express as the sijo, the yearning, longing and anger of the Kisaeng. 

 

PERFORMANCE HISTORY

Novermber 1, 2015: Michelle Areyzaga (Soprano), The Chicago Ensemble

October 27, 2015: Michelle Areyzaga (Soprano), The Chicago Ensemble

June 20, 2012: Rachel Schutz (Soprano), Ebb and Flow Ensemble

November 21, 2011: Rachel Schutz (Soprano), Ebb and Flow Ensemble