Event Preview: K-Music Festival 2023 (London; Sunday, 1st October to Sunday 12th November 2023)

The K-Music Festival is set to celebrate its 10th edition from Sunday, the 1st of October to Sunday, the 12th of November at various venues across London. Organised by the London Korean Cultural Centre in partnership with Serious and curated by Jaeyeon Park, this milestone edition promises an array of vibrant cultural experiences from the Korean Peninsula, showcasing some remarkable highlights. The Opening Concert at the Barbican Centre Hall will feature film scores from Parasite and Squid Game, and on the 10th of November, there will be an unmissable double-bill at Southbank Centre featuring two of the most exciting names in South Korean music, Jambinai and Leenalchi.

The K-Music Festival’s lineup for this landmark edition reflects the global phenomenon of Hallyu, the Korean Wave, which has swept across the world over the past decade, encompassing K-pop, K-dramas, movies, and more. It began in the late ’90s, spreading from Asia to the world, supported by the Korean government, and has transformed South Korea’s image and economy. Challenges include maintaining innovation and avoiding overexposure. The future of Hallyu looks bright, with growing interest in all things Korean, from language to cuisine, and potential remakes of Korean shows and movies. It has redefined South Korea on the global stage, making it a cultural powerhouse.

The event commences on Sunday, the 1st of October, with a breathtaking performance at Barbican Hall. Award-winning composer Jung Jaeil will grace the stage alongside the 60-piece London Symphony Orchestra. This musical odyssey will not only showcase his multifaceted talents as a singer-songwriter, composer, and music director but also feature music from his latest release, Listen, under Decca Records. Expect an evening of cinematic and musical enchantment.

Fast forward to Friday the 6th of October, and Kings Place Hall 2 will pulsate with the mesmerising intercultural fusion of CelloGayageum. The duo, consisting of cellist Sol Daniel Kim and gayageum player Dayoung Yoon, meld the cello and gayageum, inspired by the Pavillon of Unification in Berlin, transcending boundaries of sound and style. Accompanying them is Dasom Baek, a master of the daegeum, who gracefully bridges the rich musical traditions of East and West. It promises a night of captivating and innovative musical collaborations.

Mark your calendar for Thursday, the 19th of October, when Kings Place Hall 1 plays host to groove& and DUO BUD. groove&, a trio of Korean traditional percussionists, craft new compositions rooted in the Korean beat, while DUO BUD, led by percussionist and composer So Ra Kim, draw inspiration from nature, blending gayageum melodies with vibrant percussive rhythms. It’s a mesmerizing journey into Korean percussion music, guaranteeing a captivating musical voyage.

On Tuesday, the 24th of October, The Lower Third transforms into an immersive sonic realm as HAEPAARY takes the stage. This alt-electronic duo infuses traditional Korean ritual music with elements of rave and trance, offering a contemporary twist to age-old Korean sounds. Their acclaimed EP, Born by Gorgeousness, has garnered worldwide attention and acclaim. This is a performance that promises to be unique and mesmerising.

Continuing the festival’s spirit of innovation and collaboration, Wednesday, the 1st of November, at Milton Court, Barbican, sees the return of celebrated drummer Sun Mi Hong. Sun Mi Hong, a stalwart in the Dutch jazz scene, joins forces with fellow European musicians, including jazz vocalist and composer Song Yi Jeon, pianist Gee Hye Lee, and daegeum performer Hyelim Kim.

Prepare for a musical spectacle on Friday, the 10th of November, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, as Leenalchi and Jambinai, two Korean musical powerhouses, unite. Jambinai, renowned for their intense folk-infused post-rock, and Leenalchi, known for their groundbreaking creation, Tiger Is Coming, promise a blend of their top-selling tracks alongside brand-new compositions.

And last but certainly not least, on Sunday, the 12th of November, the Purcell Room at Southbank Centre will resonate with Soojin Suh Chordless Quartet and Kit Downes. The Chordless Quartet, led by Korean creative music artist and drummer Soojin Suh, embarked on a mission to explore freedom in music, mirroring freedom in society by excluding polyphonic instruments. This concept leads to exceptional performances, demonstrating the beauty of collaboration and consideration for others. Kit Downes, a distinguished solo recording artist for ECM Records, adds to the evening’s allure with his remarkable musical journey, showcasing his diverse range of talents.

The K-Music Festival’s 10th edition promises an enchanting showcase of Korean music and cultural expressions. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or new to Korean music, each performance offers an unforgettable celebration of music, culture, and innovation. Prepare to be spellbound by the captivating sounds of Korea brought to life on stage.

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