Concert highlights King Sejong’s musical talent

In this undated photo, the National Gugak Center’s Court Music Orchestra performs “Yeominrak.” (NGC)

A concert aimed at shedding light on the musical talent of King Sejong the Great will be held next week at the National Gugak Center.

King Sejong the Great (1397-1450) was the fourth ruler of the Joseon era, whose notable legacy includes, among other things, the creation of Hangeul, the Korean writing system.

The National Gugak Center Court Music Orchestra will celebrate one of King Sejong’s legacies with a concert titled “The Sound of Sejong: Yeomindongrak,” which translates to “sharing joy with the people.”

The concert will feature four variations of “Yeominrak” composed by King Sejong – “Yeominrak Man”, which is closest to the original music, “Yeominrak Yeong”, “Haeryeong” and “Yeominrak”. These pieces are recorded in “The Collected Manuscripts of King Sejong”, which remains the oldest extant musical score in Korean history, and “The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty”.

“Yeominrak” has its roots in the very creation of Hangeul which was promulgated in 1446. In an effort to increase awareness of this new writing system, the king ordered his scholars to write “Yongbieocheonga”, or ” Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” an epic poem introducing the founding myth of the Joseon Kingdom and a set of core patriotic values. The play conveyed to future kings and people the immense responsibility of leading a country born out of conflict. King Sejong then set the poem to music, which was eventually formalized as “Yeominrak”.

“This concert is a precious opportunity to share King Sejong’s ambitions for the future of his nation and his musical achievements with our audience,” said Lee Sang-won, artistic director of the Court Music Orchestra.

The hour-long concert, which includes an explanation of the pieces by the head of the Gugak Center’s research department, will take place on April 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from 20,000 won to 30,000 won and can be purchased at www.gugak.go.kr.

By Park Ga-young ([email protected])