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  Composer Profiles

Jin Hi Kim

Jin Hi Kim Jin Hi Kim

Jin Hi Kim

Click here for Full-size publicity photo of the composer (right-click and save as... to download). Credit to Camilla Van Zuylen
Click here for another Full-size publicity photo of the composer (right-click and save as... to download). Credit to Camilla Van Zuylen

Ji Hi Kim is highly acclaimed as both a komungo (a fourth century fretted board zither) virtuoso and for her cross-cultural compositions. She has pioneered a wide array of compositions for the komungo in combination which she has performed with the Kronos Quartet, Xenakis Ensemble, and the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. She has co-developed the world's only electric komungo with Joseph Yanuziello. She also has co-created with Alex Noyes for an interactive piece for komungo and the MIDI computer system. Kim has performed extensively throughout the USA, Europe, Canada, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia at many international festivals both as a soloist and with leading improvisers such as Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, William Parker, James Newton, Oliver Lake, Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, Joelle Leandre, Fredy Studer, Elliott Sharp and Henry Kaiser. She also collaborated with vituosos of the Indian sitar, Japanese koto, African drum and Australian didgeridoo on her "Komungo Around the World" CD project. Peter Watrous of The New York Times wrote, "virtuoso, Jin Hi Kim promises thoughtful, shimmering East-West amalgams in combinations that are both new and unlikely to be repeated."

She has developed a series of compositions, "Living Tones" --that each tone is alive, embodying its own individual shape, sound and subtext--and that have been presented at the Lincoln Center Festival, Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), Juilliard School's Focus Festival '96, Carnegie Hall, Darmstadt Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, Festival Nieuwe Muziek, Institute for Contemporary Art (London) and the Asian Pacific Festival (New Zealand). Josef Woodard of The Los Angeles Times wrote, "This (Living Tones) is new music/world music at its finest, beyond political correctness, into the realm of the sublime, where words and cultural postures fall away."

Kim's widely acclaimed cross-cultural mask dance music theater, "Dragon Bond Rite" (1997), featured artists from Korea, Japan, India, Indonesia, Tuva and the U.S., and was commissioned by the Japan Society through funds from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the Rockefeller Foundation, and presented at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), Japan Society (New York) and at City Hall for The Festival of Asian Art in Hong Kong. Joseph McLellan of The Washington Post wrote, "[these collaborations] cut across barriers of language, culture and tradition, touch us at deep, irrational levels, and result in a work that speaks to our common humanity."

Born in Korea in 1957, Kim earned a BA degree in Korean traditional music at Seoul National University before coming to the US, and received an MFA in electronic music/composition at Mills College, CA. Jin Hi Kim has studies ten years of traditional music with National Living treasures at the National Center for Korean traditional Performing Arts and with a noted ethnomusicologist at Seoul National University.

She has given lectures about Korean music and her compositional concept, Living Tones, at Hartwick College, Cornell University, Yale University, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Skidmore College, Dartmouth College, American Museum of Natural History, New York, California Institute of the Arts, John F. Kennedy University, Cornish College, Calvin College, University of Dayton, Vassar College, Kent State University and many other universities and events in Japan, Korea and Europe. She has presented extensive radio broadcasts throughout North America including NPR, KPFA-FM, WNYC-FM, the Canadian Public Radio/TV stations and in Korea, Japan, Australia and Europe.


Jin Hi Kim

Jin Hi Kim

Komungo Around the World

Komungo Around the World CD (1994), Seoul Record Jin Hi Kim's komungo (4th C.fretted board zither) duos with Australian didgeridoo (Adam Plack), Indian sitar (Rahul Sariputra), Japanese bass koto (hideaki Kuribayashi) and African drums (Mor Thiam).

Komungo Permutations

Kim's solo concert using both Komungo and the world's only electric komungo.

"Using sticks and fingers, she sculpted myriad bouncing, glissing, galloping attacks to produce small waves of melody that were cumulative in their power."

- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

Quagmire

Kim's komungo trio with jazz musicians William Parker (bass) and Oliver Lake (saxophone), founded in 1995 for Kim's Living Tones' Concert tour in Los Angeles and New York, which was sponsored by the Korea Society. The program is free improvisations of three musicians.

"Kim at the komungo, improvised ably with Lake and Parker on Quagmire. Kim reacted sensitively to the surroundings."

- Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times

Komungo Wuppertal Trio

Kim's komungo trio with internationally acclaimed guitarist Hans Reichel on his own invention, doxophone and an innovative accordionist Rudiger Carl. Two musicians are based in Germany. The program is structured improvisations of three musicians. The ensemble was premiered at the award ceremony for Hans Reichel by Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal, Germany in March, 1999.

Komungo Muse

Kim's komungo ensemble is consist of 3 komungo players & 1 drummer. Two komungo players from Korea will accompany her, and a drummer will be altered depend on the schedule by Indian tabla or African drum or other ethnic drum. The program includes Kim's arrangement of komungo sanjo and her compositions of komungo music.

"She strikes the strings with the determined poise of a master."

- Rip Hayman, EAR Magazine

Komungo-Gong

Kim's komungo solo with a Korean black ink calligrapher, Chong-Gong Ha who is based in Toronto. Simultaneous creation of arts in meditation.


No World Improvisations

The multi-cultural music ensemble No World Improvisations features four extraordinary virtuosi from Africa (Mor Thiam), Korea (Jin Hi Kim), China (Min Xiao-Fen) and America (Joseph Celli) performing new works and improvisations emanating from the roots of these cultures. The ensemble is an evolving synthesis of world culture musical ideas in a strikingly original cross-cultural experience. Instruments range from traditional lute, zither and drum to 'state-of-the-art' electronic instruments such as the world's only electric komungo and MIDI breath controller.

As Min plays pipa with ferocious aplomb, Kim sculpts myriad bouncing, glissing, galloping attacks to produce small waves of melody that are cumulative in their powers, and Thiam measures time against motion and adds energy through the structure. Celli approximated vocalization-with melisma on the buzzy Mukhaveena, with virtuosic articulation on oboe and English horn without reed. A performance of No World Improvisations is a rhythmic trip from the savannahs of west Africa to sounds of future explorations. Like all worthwhile improvisations, the music brings heightened awareness to the nuances of sound and to the suspense within each player's choices and reactions. No World Improvisations has performed throughout Asia, North and South America and Europe with recent appearances in Moscow, Berlin, Seoul, Paris, Tokyo, Australia, New Zealand and many locations in the USA.


Garden of Venus

Garden of Venus, compositional structure by Jin Hi Kim, is commissioned by the Asia Society for Asian Women in Music Today and is scored for Japanese yokobue, Korean komungo/changgo, Chinese pipa, Indonesian kender and voice. The Asia Society, World Music Institute in association with International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM), presentedg Asian Women in Music Today on October 22 and 23, 1999 at The Asia Society, New York. The program, conceived of by composer and IAWM International Liaison to Asia, Jin Hi Kim, comprised of two evening concerts and an afternoon panel discussion.

Present innovative music by leading virtuoso soloists who have been pioneers in the creation of new music based on their individual cultures and Asian roots, Asian Women in Music Today features Michiko Akao (Japanese yokobue flute), Jin Hi Kim (Korean komungo/electric komungo), Min Xiao-Fen (Chinese pipa), Nithyasree Mahadevan (Indian carnatic singer) and NI Ketut Suryatini (Indonesian singer). This concert highlights outstanding new work by women composers and musicians whose work is informed by materials reflective of the traditions and history of their respective countries within a contemporary context.


Living Tones

A philosophy of music and the compositional concept that she developed over the past twenty years called "Living Tones." "living tones" (sigimse in Korean word), is an essentially Korean concept of music, with which Jin Hi Kim makes manifest the foundation of her compositional path. Kim explains that "the conceptual basis for living tones, which is the essential element in Korean traditional music, is that each tone is alive, embodying its own individual shape, sound, texture, vibrato, glissando, expressive nuances, and dynamics. "Living tones" can take on a dramatic weight that makes music rich." Essential to the concept of living tones is that "the precise timbral persona of each tone generated is treated with an abiding respect as its philosophical mandate."

Kim began her study of traditional Korean music at the age of 13, and she believes there is now a convergence in different eras and that the centuries-old Korean court music philosophy, based on cosmic principles, and Western concepts, such as atomic theory, fractal geometry and chaos aesthetics, co-exist in living tones. Korean court music is often structured in hetero-phonic orchestration, irregular and organic phrases and microtonal shadings. In the fractal world, the shape of triangles, squares or lines is not important, just as the scale, pitch and melody are not so important in the living tones concept. Fractal geometry focuses on broken, crinkled, wrinkled and uneven shapes (living tones). The microscopic structure of self-similarity (infinite variety) and the haphazard of group (organic phrases) are the essence of being. Kim aims to fuse the old Korean and the new Western concepts in her compositions.

Living Tones Lecture

The Korea Society has a special program for of "Living Tones" lecture. The Korea Society has booked 16 lecture tour nationwide for 1999-2000 season. At the moment they are booking for 2000-2001 season. An one hour lecture will use scores and CDs that were written for Korean and Western instruments. One of examples, Nong Rock, for string quartet and komungo, which was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet. There will be also komungo (a 4th century fretted board zither) improvisation. The Korea Society will cover the transportation fee and half of the presentation fee ($250). If you are interested in this highly subsidized program, please contact Mr. Fred Carriere at the Korea Society at fred.ny@koreasociety.org or by telephone at 212-759-7525 ex. 13.

Living Tones CD

Jin Hi Kim's selected bi-cultural compositions, written for Korean traditional and Western instruments. Performed by Sirius string quartet, Robert Dick, Joseph Celli, Thomas Buckner and masters from the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts including a national living treasure, Chung Jae Guk. "Living Tones" CD is published by OO Discs., CT. Please visit http://www. OOdiscs.com/0024.html or contact OODiscs@connex.com

Chamber Music for Living Tones

"Living Tones" has been practiced for the following compositions. Contact for scores: Living Tones, 261 Grovers Ave. Black Rock, CT 06604-3452 USA. Tel: 203-367-9061 fax: 203-333-0603 E-mail: JHKSOURCE@aol.com


Cross-Cultural Multi-Media Collaboration

Dragon Bond Rite

Dragon Bond Rite, a cross-cultural mask dance and music drama. Conceived and composed by Jin Hi Kim, is a truly multi-cultural collaboration with artists from Korea, Japan, India, Indonesia, Tuva and the US. Dragon Bond Rite breaks new ground in music theater for which Pan-Asian traditional drummers, vocalists, and masked dancers come together and blend their respective traditional elements of music, dance, and drama.DBR features internationally acclaimed virtuoso performers from 5 Asian countries.

DBR can be a wonderful source of workshop for the mask dance traditions of Korean talchum, Japanese noh, Indian kudiyattam and Indonesian topeng as well as Tuvan throat singing. DBR features an engaging blend of these traditional Asian arts that perform together in a unique way never done in any of the respective cultures, engaging multi-cultural experience of drumming, stylized vocal techniques, dance, colorful costumes, and dramatic theatrical elements.

It was commissioned by the Japan Society through funds from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the Rockefeller Foundation MAP grant; created at the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy) under a developmental residency program; and presented in 1997 at Japan Society (New York), the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), and The Festival of Asian Art in Hong Kong (China). Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post wrote, "....cut across barriers of language, culture and tradition, touch us at deep, irrational levels result in a work that speaks to our common humanity." Currently The Korea Society is looking for a booking agent who may be interested in organizing the national tour in 2001. Contact: Scott Robinson at 330-673-0821 or by e-mail at sonrob@msn.com.

Dong Dong Touching The Moons

A multi-media music theater, Touching The Moons is conceived and composed by Jin Hi Kim. TTM is a new multi-disciplinary work created through a collaborative process with Korean, Indian and US artists working in the fields of music, dance, multi-media art, and technology. The piece will interweave and juxtapose traditional Asian dance and musical forms with cutting-edge technology to create a truly cross-cultural work both in methodology and subject: TTM is a multi-media homage to the moon, and will celebrate the traditional Eastern belief of the moon as a female force that counterbalances the male energy of the sun while at the same time commemorating Western science's continuing exploration of the solar system as the "last great frontier".

TTM will be the centerpiece of a conference about the intersection of technology, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and hosted at The Kitchen in May, 2000. International travel for the research, creation and presentation of the piece has been provided by Arts International, as well as some artist fees and other expenses. The multi-media and interactive aspects of TTM has been developed through an Artist-in-Residency Program grant at Harvestworks in New York City.

TTM will performed in multiple sections, some of which will focus on the various moons in the universe. References to ancient Asian rituals commemorating the phases of the moon and other lunar celebrations will be mixed in with and informed by scientific surveys of the solar system. Both the rituals and the scientific surveys suggest the personalities, characteristics, colors, cycles and formations of each moon. By juxtaposing these scientific and mythological notions of the moon, the duality of its identity in the human imagination will become evident.

The project will bridge the diversity of ancient Asian traditional dance and music forms such as Indian kathak dance and Korean court-style kagok lyric singing with state-of-the-art digital imagery multi-media art, and MIDI sensors. The newly developed electric komungo (Korean 4th Century fretted board zither) will also be used, as well as electric changgo drum with a MIDI computer system. The piece will explore the theme of civilization's on-going interest in extending global existence to space, and through this exploration expose the audience to different traditions, aesthetics and sensibilities from three countries (Korea, India, and the U.S.). The result will communicate with audiences that the distinguished traditions of East and West, science and mythology, acoustics and technology, can all be used to explore the same theme. Contact: Renee Danger James at 212-255-5793 (ext. 18), or by e-mail at Rachel@thekitchen.org.


Korean Music Lecture

The Korea Society has a special program for Korean music lecture. The Korea Society has booked 16 lecture tour nationwide for 1999-2000 season. At the moment they are booking for 2000-2001 season. An one hour lecture of Introduction to Korean Music will use slides of instruments and CDs for court and folk music. There will be also komungo (a 4th century fretted board zither) demonstration. The Korea Society will cover the transportation fee and half of the presentation fee ($250). If you are interested in this highly subsidized program, please contact me for the date. If you need more information about the program, please contact Mr. Fred Carriere at the Korea Society at fred.ny@koreasociety.org or by telephone at 212-759-7525 ex. 13.

Introduction

Although little known among Americans, Korean music forms an extremely rich tradition of expression which stretches back over 2000 years. Among the small group of American conoscenti of Korean music are composers and improvisers who have found elements in it to inspire their own music. For most, however - even for those who are familiar with Chinese and Japanese music - Korean music is an unknown subject. Even though Korean music has been influenced by Chinese music, its characteristics are unique and original. Its impact and influence on Japanese music is quite significant. Korean music is strongly influenced by Shamanistic ecstatic possession, Taoism's middle way between the static and dynamic, the Confucian concept of right conduct (emphasizing ceremony and utilization of the universal sound), and Buddhism's meditative quest for nothingness. Korean music is abstract, varied, complex, sophisticated, extremely expressive and is unlike any other music in its form, character and instruments; unfortunately, it is largely unknown in the rest of the world. Little is written about it, and very few recordings are available in America.

The music is divided roughly into two types - court and folk. Court music developed out of Confucian ritual shrine music of the 12th century China and now preserves this form which has disappeared from Chinese music. Court music also includes royal orchestral music that was performed at the palace for 700 years, and lyric songs that were sung among Confucian scholars. Court music is static and abstract, emphasizing universal realities rather than human feelings, and its tempo is very slow which reflects natural universal cycles. Court music embodies a musical philosophy based on yin and yang, and was thought to employ sounds which carry inner energy over outer emotive expression. Prior to the import of Chinese music, Korean native music was influenced by a shamanistic spirit, ecstatic possession and improvisation. Reflecting the life of the common people, folk music is often sorrowful (han), but often, too, there is much joy. Both court and folk music emphasize tone color, gesture and rhythmic cycles, which are organic and natural in the life form.

Jin Hi Kim will demonstrate and perform on the indigenous Korean instrument, the komungo (a six-stringed fretted board zither), which originated in the 4th century in Northern Korea (Koguryo). Komungo was mainly used in the court music orchestra and kagok ensemble for aristocratic lyric songs. Traditionally, male Confucian scholars performed komungo as a meditation. Kim will discuss the evolution of the instrument into the 20th century and will also perform her own komungo improvisations, which she has developed during the past two decades. She has pioneered a wide array of compositions for Korean komungo and co-developed the world's only electric komungo.


Upcoming


Selected Articles

She has written over 30 articles for Korea's largest music magazine, Eumak Dong-A which is published by Dong-A Daily News. These articles about American new music included reviews of concerts and festivals, interviews with and research of some of America's most significant composers including John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass and many others.


Jin Hi Kim: Released CDs



To reach the composer:
On-line: jhksource@aol.com
By telephone: +1-203-367-9061
By fax: +1-203-333-0603
By physical mail: 261 Grovers Ave. Black Rock, CT 06604-3452 USA