Although the world has drastically changed over the past few months due to the Coronavirus pandemic, musicians and organizations have adapted and found creative ways to share music with audiences. In response to the cancellation of live performances, the top institution for Korean music, the National Gugak Center, held a competition for performing ensembles, in which two different groups entered with works composed by our very own Professor of Music, Dr. Donald Reid Womack.
His piece Labyrinth (미로), performed by the Seoul Gayageum Ensemble, was selected to have a high-definition music video produced. While the video only features a quartet, the ensemble consists of many graduate students studying traditional Korean instruments at the College of Music, Seoul National University.
According to Dr. Womack, Labyrinth is a challenging piece “full of twists, false starts, sudden turns, circular logic, misplaced rhythms, and a confused sense of direction.” Yet, in spite of the maze-like approach to the piece, there is an “elegant symmetry” between the four instruments, who share a single line of interlocking rhythms “in order to find their eventual destination.”