Nongak style – Korean drumming in Vancouver

Korean drumming ensemble SamulNori

Led by Kim Duk Soo, Korean drumming ensemble SamulNori comes to the Chan Centre at UBC March 15.

Looking for some Korean drumming in Vancouver? Look no further than SamulNori, an outfit from South Korea performing traditional Korean drumming at the Chan Centre at UBC this Saturday.

These guys have been rocking out since 1978, when the four original members founded the group. Their mission: to preserve traditional itinerant Korean music and dance rooted in “nongak” or farmers’ band music.

Nongak isn’t limited to music – it includes acrobatics, folk dance and rituals that were performed in rice farming villages to ensure and celebrate favourable harvests. It’s ceremonial music with influences from folk and religious music known as binari.

“SamulNori” comes from the Korean words samul and nori, meaning “four things” and “to play.” The four percussion instruments featured are each associated with an element in nature – k’kwaenggwari (small gong, representing lighting), ching (large gong, representing wind), changgo (hourglass shaped drum, representing rain) and buk (barrel drum, representing clouds).

Under the direction of highly accomplished changgo player and leader Kim Duk Soo,
SamulNori is modernizing this music with their own rhythms. The company, which has grown to include upwards of 30 artists and students, has helped spark a renaissance in Korean music. SamulNori has also garnered worldwide acclaim through the release of 15 recordings and extensive international touring to countries such as Germany, China, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and more – including performances in festivals such as the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival, and the World Drum Festival.

And, as luck would have it, it happens that UBC Ethnomusicology Professor Dr. Nathan Hesselink has recently published a book on SamulNori. Before the Vancouver performance, Hesselink will give a talk entitled Contemporary Korean Drumming and the Rebirth of Itinerant Performance Culture. The talk introduces key historical and artistic performance elements as a means of understanding the emergence and popularity of SamulNori and is free for ticketholders to the performance. Seating is limited.

As well, SamulNori and Kim Duk Soo lead a Korean Drumming Demonstration and Beginners’ Workshop March 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Telus Studio Theatre (Chan Centre). Instruments provided. FREE.

SamulNori performs at the Chan Centre (6265 Crescent Road) for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. Tickets start at $36 and are available at



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