Black String will be performing at the Harrison Festival of the Arts this year, taking their unusual take on traditional Korean music to the beach stage. (Nah Seung Yull/Contributed)

Korean tradition mixes with electric sound for Harrison Festival performance

Black String will be playing on the beach stage during the Festival of the Arts

K-pop may be Korea’s most popular music export, but Black String won’t be bringing the genre’s elaborate choreography and fashion to their concert at Harrison Festival this July.

“If you’re a big fan of world music or folk music, you will totally love this group,” North American manager Shawn Choi said about the Korean quartet.

“But honestly, if you’re into K-pop, you are not going to be interested in this group.

“But this is dynamic enough that you will be curious and want to hear more about their music.”

RELATED: Harrison Festival releases 2019 line up

The band first began in 2011 as a trio, sponsored by the Korean government in a cultural exchange between Korea and the United Kingdom.

First featuring musicians Yoon Jeong Heo on the geomungo (a traditional Korean stringed instrument), Jean Oh on the electric guitar and Aram Lee on the daegeum (a bamboo transverse flute) and yanggeum (a traditional instrument with metal strings), the trio was later joined by percussionist and vocalist Min Wang Hwang.

“Min Wang Hwang joined the group, and they became so much more dynamic in terms of their programming,” Choi said.

“They have everything, in terms of strings, reeds, guitar, electric sounds, percussion sound and even Korean traditional vocals,” he added. “Their music is all about being rooted in traditional Korean music and culture” while still embracing the sounds of contemporary genres.

Although the group has one album, with another set to be released this fall, the real magic of Black String’s performances can only be heard in person, at concerts where the group can improvise.

“Of course … they have some sort of the bigger picture of the music, but they’ll always look at each other and start to play improvisation on the stage,” Choi said.

“So it’s quite amazing to hear, and every concert is different because they improvise.”

On Wednesday, July 17, Black String will be playing at the Harrison Festival’s beach stage for their Canadian debut.

The performance, starting at 7 p.m., is part of the group’s first Canadian tour, which will take them around the Lower Mainland to folk festivals throughout the month of July.

Although the group isn’t well-known in Canada, Choi is hoping the group will be able to bring out some of Vancouver’s Korean community to the festival.

“There’s a pretty good amount of the Korean community in the Vancouver region, so I hope this will bring out a lot of the Korean audience,” Choi said.

“Especially Harrison is not a popular community for Koreans, but hopefully the Korean community will come to Harrison looking, not just for their show, but the other shows in Harrison as well.”

For more stories on the Harrison Festival of the Arts, visit agassizharrisonobserver.com/tag/harrison-festival-of-the-arts.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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