Musical artists come to museums in the latest form of fusion art

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Yun Seok Cheol Trio performs inside the Exhibition Hall of the National Museum of Korea, which features the exhibition “Icons and Identities” from the National Portrait Gallery, London, which recently ended on 15 August. [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

The museum grounds are generally kept so quiet that a needle could be heard falling to the ground, acting as an almost solemn place where visitors can quietly contemplate the paintings or artifacts on display.

But recently, cheerful jazz tunes shattered the silence within the walls of the National Museum of Korea exhibition hall featuring “Icons and Identities” from the National Portrait Gallery, London, ”a special exhibition that recently took place. completed August 15. The music was even performed live by the Yun Seok Cheol Trio, who brought large instruments – a piano, double bass, and drums – into the room which is usually strictly supervised.

What does the piano do in the museum?

The jazz trio were not playing illegally inside the museum, but instead performing for the new project “Piano in the Museum”.

The project was organized by the National Museum of Korea Cultural Foundation to create online content to promote important relics or special exhibits at state-run museums across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. National museums offer virtual tours and other online videos where curators guide viewers through the works or artefacts on display. However, for the latest project, the foundation says it wants to create unique online content that will appeal to a wider audience, who may not have paid much attention to what’s going on in national museums.

“We wanted to attract attention naturally by putting on a concert-like performance inside museums and providing a rare opportunity to watch a performance online with an exhibit,” said Oh Seung-min, an official at the foundation. .

The foundation decided to collaborate with artists from Antenna Music, a label that represents musicians of various genres, including a large number of singer-songwriters who know how to play the piano.

The Yun Seok Cheol Trio launched the project at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan District, central Seoul, and the video they produced was uploaded on July 7. Next, singer and songwriter Lee Jin-ah, who performed at the Chuncheon National Museum in Chuncheon, Gangwon, inside the hall exhibiting “Five Hundred Arhats of Changnyeongsa Temple Site: Reflection of Our Hearts” . Lee performed with drummer Seo Joo-young and bassist Park Jong-woo, and their video was uploaded on August 13. Both videos receive rave reviews from the public, with comments like, “This is probably the best project I have ever seen by a state-run museum.

Singer and songwriter Lee Jin-ah, center, plays piano with drummer Seo Joo-young and guitarist Park Jong-woo inside the exhibit hall "Changnyeongsa Five Hundred Arhats Temple Site: Reflection of Our Hearts" at the Chuncheon National Museum in Gangwon. [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

Singer and songwriter Lee Jin-ah, center, plays piano with drummer Seo Joo-young and guitarist Park Jong-woo inside the hall exhibiting “Five Hundred Arhats at Changnyeongsa Temple Site: Reflection of our hearts ”at the Chuncheon National Museum in Gangwon. [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

Lee Jin-ah plays the piano, surrounded by statuettes called Arhats, or louhan, in Buddism, which refers to those who have achieved enlightenment. [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

Lee Jin-ah plays the piano, surrounded by statuettes called Arhats, or louhan, in Buddism, which refers to those who have achieved enlightenment. [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

Jazz pianist Yun Seok-cheol of the trio told Korea JoongAng Daily that he was “honored to be selected as one of the artists to be able to perform at the National Museum of Korea,” which he had visited as a child. boy on school trips. “I always visit the museum from time to time whenever I want to be inspired.”

“As soon as we heard about the project, we were very amazed and wanted to be a part of such an interesting project,” Yun said.

“It was my first experience in an exhibition hall, surrounded by superb works of art. I was excited but scared at the same time [because it’s a sensitive location]. I also felt like I was traveling through time. If I had performed in a different showroom that features other artifacts, I think it would have been a completely different performance. We were inspired by the works, and that directly affected our improvised performance. ”

As the trio’s setup at the museum was around portraits of England, Yun said he selected British songs that he likes to reinterpret as a jazz piece.

Jazz pianist Yun Seok-cheol [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

Jazz pianist Yun Seok-cheol [SOMETIMES LUCKY]

“The only problem was that I had too many songs I wanted to cover, so it was difficult for me to select only a few for this project,” Yun said. Songs Yun ended up choosing for the video included “Mother Nature’s Son” by The Beatles and “Coffee & TV” by Blur.

“We also looked at the exhibition before the performance, and I could feel that the portraits really reflect the time, as if a movie from that era was unfolding in front of me,” Yun said. “That’s why I included the trio’s ‘Seoul 2019’ in the performance, because I feel like the song is a portrait of Korea in 2019.”

Museums are naturally tightly secure places, as they must protect important works of art and the priceless relics they house. However, recently, as the supply of diverse online content to the public has become more important than ever before, museums have become more open to ‘experiences’, allowing things to happen within the place that. were generally prohibited, such as a Yamaha piano entering one of its showrooms. to play. In March, the National Museum of Korea even gave the go-ahead for Seoul Fashion Week to host a fashion show, allowing models to parade inside the exhibition halls and around the relics.

Hong Young-pyo of Sometimes Lucky, who produced the videos, said he understood how tricky it was to do such a project inside museums and make sure nothing was damaged, but there was no doubt that the result would be “great video content.” for artists and museums.

A scene from video content of Lee's performance at the National Chuncheon Museum, featuring the Arhats. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A scene from video content of Lee’s performance at the National Chuncheon Museum, featuring the Arhats. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

“The name ‘Piano in the Museum’ itself was so appealing,” Hong said. “To have artists already so renowned for their piano performances on the stage of such a concert surrounded by priceless artifacts was indeed an unforgettable experience. We hope the videos touch the hearts of everyone who watches them, as much as she did for all of us at the venue. ”

Yun says playing inside a museum has been such an inspiring experience that he hopes to someday perform a “mix of jazz and electronic music” alongside one of the late artist Nam June’s works. Paik.

“It was indeed a precious experience that enabled me to realize the great power of culture,” said Yun.

“Due to the pandemic, many live performances are being canceled and many are being taken online,” Hong said. “It’s depressing that it gets harder and harder to enjoy live music, but at the same time, creative online projects like ‘Piano in the Museum’ are being tested, tested and created. While this cannot completely replace live performances, I believe such diverse endeavors will continue to be offered to audiences. ”

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [[email protected]]


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