04/17/2017 Interview > Alumni
A Pro in Both Fields; Pansori and Gayageum
Choi Min-hyouk (Korean Traditional Music, ‘07)
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Just as a guitar player may also sing beautifully, Choi Min-hyouk is a professional player and singer of gayageum, or Korean zither, and pansori, a type of Korean traditional music. His field of music is called Gayageum sanjo mit byeongchang in Korean. Hi diligence and passion enabled him to master gayageum and pansori to complete the course of Intangible Cultural Property .23 designated by the South Korean government.
Recently, Choi was awarded the prestigious Ureuk Grand Prize at the 26th National Ureuk Gayageum Contest, a nationwide competition for gayageum players and pansori singers, held on March 31st to April 1st. Also working as a chief member of Daejeon Yeonjung Korean Music Center, an organization whose mission is to preserve Korean traditional music, or Gukak, he endeavors to deliver the excellence of Gukak to Korea and the world’s general public.
The 26th Grand Prize Winner of the National Ureuk Gayageum Contest
The largest number of contestants consisting of of 214 teams participated in this year's contest. Choi was the first male competitor to win the Grand Prize. “Despite my skills that need more refining, it was luck that awarded me this fruitful outcome. I’ll use this opportunity to work harder and devote myself more deeply.” he modestly revealed.
The songs Choi sang and played with his gayageum are 'Hwaryongdo' from Jeokbyeokga in the preliminary round and ‘On the way to the castle’ from Simcheongga in the finals. Jeokbyokga, a Chinese war story, and Simcheongga, a tale which a devoted daughter helps to recover eyesight of her blind father and subsequently becoming a queen in her homeland, are famous pansori songs from the Joseon Dynasty. ‘“Hwaryongdo' depicts scenes of fierce war and ‘On the way to the castle’ vividly describes the blind father well. The two songs made it easier for me to showcase the charm of a male pansori singeri, ” he explained.
Efforts To Preserve and Maintain Traditional Music
Currently a chief member of Daejeon Yeonjung Korean Music Center, Choi takes part in various music performances in and out of the country and teaches gayageum and pansori. “Today, pansori is perceived as something old and boring by the general audience. As a gukak performer, I believe prejudice is the problem we have to overcome. I am working hard to teach gukak easily and make it more approachable to the general public,” he said. In addition to practicing his music, Choi also focuses on communication and harmony between other members of the group.
Choi began practicing pansori when he was ten-years-old, at the suggestion of his father. Choosing pansori as his major, he started studying gayageum after taking classes as his minor. From his classes, he first met his teacher Gang Jeong-suk, who had much knowledge and skills for Intangible Cultural Property No.23 Gayageum sanjo mit byeongchang. Becoming a disciple of Gang, and after four years of training, he was selected as the gukak musician to complete the necessary course as a receiver of Intangible Cultural Property No.23.
“My motto is ilchaeyushimjo(一切唯心造), which is a term from Buddhism that means everything depends on how you think. Positive thinking and incessant exertion reap good results for certain,” Choi claimed. Choi also believes that the performer of music needs to be a good person first in order to play good music. Therefore, his prime objective is to become a good person who plays good music. “Nowadays, all gugak majors learn both purely traditional and crossover music. However, I believe that only when the root of the tradition is firmly established can there be room for creative crossover music, ” he advised.
Jang Soo-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
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