Music Department Colloquium: Jin Hi Kim—“Komungo Abroad in the Digital Age: No Boundary between Ancient and Contemporary”

Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 4:30pm
Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall, Room 003 (Daltry Room), 60 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

FREE! Reservation required.

Jin Hi Kim is an innovative komungo (fretted board zither) virtuoso, a Guggenheim Fellow composer, and a United States Artists Fellow who teaches Korean Drumming and Creative Music at Wesleyan University, where she is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in Music. One of the first women to study the 4th-century Korean komungo, she came to the U.S. in 1980 aspiring to explore contemporary Western music. She co-designed and developed the world’s only electric komungo performing it in a range of new music settings, performed her Living Tones compositions with leading contemporary American musicians, and improvised with virtuoso soloists around the world. Her works reflect and challenge the multicultural and technological nature of American society. She has created large-scale interactive multimedia performances, Ghost Komungobot (2015) and Digital Buddha (2006–2014), juxtaposing Asian mythology and aesthetics with emerging American art technology. In 2021 described her as “a musical philosopher and radiator of electricity.”

Jin Hi Kim uses music as a means to raise awareness of social, environmental, and political issues. She responded to two American wars in Asia: “One Sky II” for orchestra (2018) is dedicated to the reunification of Korea and “Child of War” for chorus (2014) is dedicated to Kim Phuc, a victim of the Vietnam War who became known as “the girl in the picture” after being depicted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, “The Terror of War.” Her concern about rapid climate change and environmental degradation led her to create the Sound Calendar of the Year 2018 which documents the year’s environmental catastrophes in sound. Drawing on the ancient healing and spiritual practices of Korean Shamanism, she responded to the global tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic through A Ritual for Covid-19, a community purification performance in memory of those who died from Covid. She developed the Living Tones with Living Sounds series inspired by the organic beauty of acoustic phenomena in nature.

Kim has performed her compositions at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other prestigious venues. She received commissions from and performed with the Kronos Quartet, American Composer Orchestra, Xenakis Ensemble, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is a recipient of numerous national and international awards and fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Orchestra fellowship, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Italy, the Wolff Ebermann Prize at the International Theater Institute, Germany, the Asian Cultural Council, the Freeman Artist-In-Residence Program at Cornell University, and the NEFA’s Rebecca Blunk Fund Award.

The colloquium is organized by Assistant Professor of Music John Dankwa and Assistant Professor of Music and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Saida Daukeyeva as part of the Music Department Colloquium Series.