Berlioz, Wagner, Mahler…these are composers renowned for having called upon hundreds of performers in their works. But it turns out they were late to the party. Over 400 years earlier Korea had already amassed an army of musicians to perform at their king’s banquet.
This past weekend I attended a one-of-a-kind performance, one I don’t imagine I’ll have the chance to take in again anytime soon. At a big palace in Seoul a big group of instrumentalists joined forces with a big group of dancers and put on a recreation of a big banquet ceremony for a big audience. Over 400 performers came together at Gyeongbokgung for the event, with everyone wearing the appropriate attire for the era. To think that the original ceremony lasted even longer than the 1.5 hour performance we saw, and to think of the coordination that must have gone into planning such a event, makes one realize just how beautifully over-the-top this sort of thing is. Photos are below, but unfortunately none of them appropriately show the immense scope of the event.
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