Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Soo Yeon Lyuh - Korea / USA

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About Yessori (Sound from the Past)

Video: Composer Soo Yeon Lyuh and members of the Kronos demonstrate key techniques for Yessori.

Soo Yeon Lyuh provides resources

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Yessori (Sound from the Past) Videos

Program Notes

About Yessori, Lyuh writes:

“When I first played the haegeum for Kronos violinist David Harrington, he commented that the sound seemed ‘ancient,’ and commissioned me to write a piece that explores aspects of Korean traditional music. With his observation in mind, I composed Yessori (옛소리), which is Korean for ‘sound from the past.’
“The first time I experienced Korean traditional music, the relative pitch relationships and fluid nature of the rhythmic cycles felt chaotic, perhaps because of my background in Western music. However, over the past two decades of studying the haegeum, I came to love these unique qualities and am excited to share them through Yessori.

“My compositional process began with improvisations on the haegeum in the style of traditional Korean music. I then adapted the distinctive techniques, vibrato, and articulations for string quartet.”

Soo Yeon Lyuh's Yessori was commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including Carnegie Hall and many others.

About Soo Yeon Lyuh

Soo Yeon Lyuh is a haegeum (Korean two-string bowed instrument) player, composer, and improviser currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rigorously trained in court and folk repertories from a young age, Lyuh is known for her masterful performances of new compositions for the haegeum. In South Korea, she served as a member of the National Gugak Center’s new music group for 12 years.

Deeply invested in exploring new musical possibilities via improvisation, she has collaborated with the William Winant, Fred Frith, Joan Jeanrenaud, and numerous other diverse international performers and composers. Lyuh has premiered over 50 new music compositions in the last two years, including pieces by Cindy Cox, Larry Polansky, David Evan Jones, and Jean Ahn. She has performed renowned contemporary and experimental concerts in festivals and venues all over the world, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MASS MoCA), Ecstatic Music Festival (The Greene Space at WQXR, New York), as a featured soloist with UC Berkeley Symphony orchestra on tour (Spain), Isang Yun Music Festival (North Korea), Büyükşehir Belediyesi Sanat ve Kültür Sarayı (Turkey), Siri Fort Auditorium (India) and the Seoul Arts Center (South Korea), among others. Lyuh has recorded multiple CDs of Korean court music, Jazz, and improvisation, as well as being featured on an improvisational recording with Henry Kaiser, Bill Laswell, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Simon Barker.

Lyuh holds a BA, MA, and Ph.D. in Korean Musicology from Seoul National University where she taught for six years. More recently, she has organized workshops and lecture concerts in collaboration with composition and ethnomusicology faculty at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Mills College, and University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Lyuh seeks to continually expand contemporary haegeum possibilities through work with new media and technology. She is currently a Scholar-Artist in Residence at Mills College.

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