Eternity (영원)

daegeum and Korean traditional orchestra
(2017) 18′

Program Note

One of the most revered works in the Korean court music repertoire has an appropriately poetic – and beautiful – title. Sujecheon is often translated as “Long Life Immeasurable as the Heavens,” and as the title suggests, the music has a uniquely timeless feel. The work is made up of ornamented melodies and rhythmic patterns that are played so slowly it feels as if the entire ensemble is moving in slow motion. Like Sujecheon, this daegeum concerto features long, slow melodies and rhythmic patterns that are spread out across long distances. At other times the music is quick and energized, though the underlying structure of Sujecheon is always present at its core.

The concerto is structured in 4 major sections. The first bears the closest resemblance to the court music on which it is based, with the orchestra playing a variation of the opening of Sujecheon before the daegeum announces its entrance. The second section introduces rustling rhythms that gradually filter through the entire ensemble. The daegeum leads the ensemble in the third section, as the orchestra echoes its lyrical lines. After an extended cadenza, the fourth section returns to the melodies of Sujecheon, but now in a much faster tempo.

Eternity is dedicated to music director Kwon Sung Taek and the Busan National Gugak Center orchestra.

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