“Blind Sim Regaining His Sight” Scene from the pansori work
<Simcheongga (Song of Simcheong)>
판소리 <심청가> 중 “심봉사 눈 뜨는 대목”
Welcome to the first episode of <Gugak Wednesdays: Online Korean Music Concerts>!
The world as we know it has changed drastically in just a few months. All of us are faced with a new reality and are going through different types of grief: maybe you have lost a loved one, maybe you are dealing with a sense of loss and loneliness, maybe you are working at the very frontlines and seeing suffering everyday. Whatever the sense of weight may be, we are all in this together.
Every Wednesday throughout May and June, the Korean Cultural Center New York presents an online Korean music concert series, <Gugak Wednesdays> in hopes to provide solace to tired people and to give comfort to all. It is our sincere hope that you can find joy and healing through beautiful music.
The first performance is of “Blind Sim Regaining His Sight” from the pansori work <Simcheongga (Song of Simcheong)>. May 8th is Korea’s Parents’ Day. Simcheongga is a representative pansori work transmitted from the Joseon Dynasty to the present with the theme of the traditional Korean ethics of hyo (孝), an act of honoring parents, and considered to be one of the most important, critical virtues of Korean culture.
In the musical piece, Simcheong is a devoted daughter who sells herself as a sacrifice to the God of the Sea in the hope of having her father’s blindness cured. She throws herself into the sea, but the Dragon King is deeply moved by Simcheong’s incredible filial piety and reincarnates Simcheong as a queen. Queen Simcheong ultimately is able to reunite with her father who has now regained his sight.
“Blind Sim Regaining His Sight” is the final scene that depicts the moment when Blind Sim opens his eyes thanks to Simcheong’s filial piety. It ends with a happy festive atmosphere, removing all the weight and sadness that had permeated the entire piece.
Hyo (孝) has long been regarded as one of the most important virtues of Korean culture. There are many people who have not been able to see the faces of their loved ones – especially their parents – due to the state of the world. But this week, why don’t you give a call to your family members and express your love and appreciation for them?
Pansori (Folk tradition of story singing)
Pansori is a folk tradition of a genre of narrative singing. It is the representative Korean vocal genre. Usually it is performed by a single singer who delivers an epic story accompanied by one drummer (gosu).
The songs are an amalgam of poetic, dramatic, narrative, vocal, and musical elements. The gosu gives chuimsae (‘calls of encouragement”) to spur on the singer throughout the work. Unlike other performance forms, it is particularly exciting as the singer, drummer, and the audience all participate to make the pansori work come together as a unique piece.
Pansori was designated as one of Korea’s National Intangible Cultural Property in 1964, and in 2003, UNESCO recognized pansori as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. There are five surviving epic songs in the current pansori repertoire including <Simcheongga>, <Chunhyangga>, <Heungbuga>, <Sugungga>, and <Jeokbyeokga>.
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