HEO Yoon-jeong
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"Geomungo Sanjo in Manhattan"

A Solo Recital of Yoon Jeong Heo at Engelman Recital Hall,
Baruch Performing Arts Center on the 30th

The Korean Cultural Service of New York invites you to a concert of Korean geomungo (six-string zither) music, rarely performed in this country, by the distinguished and celebrated geomungo player and composer, Yoon Jeong Heo. The performance will be held at Engelman Recital Hall, Baruch Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m.
In her concert entitled "Echo of Geomungo," Ms. Heo will present selections from the geomungo repertoire ranging from the traditional genres to contemporary pieces, including "Sanjo," an improvisational solo work, "Sansa," for geomungo and contrabass duet, and "Wave," for solo geomungo. A highlight of the concert will be her own composition, "Underplot," in an experimental and innovative improvisational style with the extended use of a "looping" technique to create a "sound mystique," which results from the mixture of many layers of geomungo timbre.
Yoon-Jeong Heo is active as a soloist who cuts across various genres, expanding the possibilities of geomungo and Korean music by grafting together different genres that include traditional music, impromptu music, and contemporary music. She graduated from the National High School of Korean Traditional Music and received her B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University. In 1984, she began her study of geomungo sanjo, Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 16, with the Living National Treasure Han Gap Duk, continuing the lineage of his school, and has obtained the prestigious title of "yisuja" which designates her mastery at the highest level of Master Han's performance lineage of geomungo sanjo.
She served as the deputy concertmaster of the Seoul Metropolitan Korean Music Orchestra (1990-1994). In addition to eight successful solo recitals, she has performed numerous concerts joining the renowned German artist Stephan Micus as soloist with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, KBS Korean Traditional Music Orchestra, and performing in the celebration concert for 120th anniversary of Korea-France relations. She has had impromptu performances with artists at the "Voice of Asia—Free Music Festival," concert tours in Germany, England, France, United States, China, Japan, Poland and other countries. She received the Ministry of Culture prize in 1986, the "Most Cultural Prize" in the field of Korean Traditional Music sponsored by the 1996 Year of Cultural Organization Committee, and a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council, which is supporting her 2007-08 residency in New York City. She is a member of "Sangsang," a soloist ensemble, art director of Bukchon Changwoo Theather, leader of project group "go-MOON-go" and lecturer at Jungang University and Yongin University.
- THE KOREA TIMES NEW YORK ( Friday November 23, 2007)

"Yoon Jeong Heo—Demanding Herself to Premières New Compositions"

Since 1990 Yoon Jeong Heo, one of the masters of Korean music for the next generation, has been actively performing and has given numerous solo recitals. Her performance goal of this year, she focuses only on premiering new compositions for both her recitals, and releasing a CD from the collection of those compositions. She has already premiered over twenty newly-composed pieces that she commissioned to various contemporary composers, which received the enthusiastic acclaims from numerous music critics and audiences alike, so this is not something new to her. In fact, in her solo recital on last September, which brought special attentions from many music lovers, Heo performed many fascinating pieces including the geomingo sanjo based in the version of Master Han Gap-deuk, “Heohyang” by Jae-hwa Lee, and “Kochum” by Hae-sik Lee, all premier compositions. Heo said the “performers should be “premiering new composition should be considered as an important task for every performer, which provides such meaningful accomplishments.”
She explains further that “premiering new pieces is an attractive work for me, although it takes a lot of time and energy to learn and understand the musical intensions and expressions of the composers. Therefore the performer should have an active, positive mind to approach to the new pieces. Yes, it requires time and demands hard work, but it is very meaningful and valuable creation for performers, overall, influencing and effecting the development of music at large.”
Heo holds the prestigious title of “yisuja,” which designates her mastery at the highest level of Master Han Gap-deuk's performance lineage of geomungo sanjo. With the other lineage of Master Shin Kwe-dong, these two sanjo schools are the most popular ones for the geomungo. Master Han was named as one of the Korea’s national living treasures for his preservation of the geomungo, extending the original version of the sanjo, about the length of 25minutes, from Master Pak Seok-ki into 90 minutes of music. Because of Heo’s effort to preserve and disseminate Han’s sanjo lineage today, it would be loved and survived for a long time.
Heo confesses that “I did not have a strong bond musically to Han’s version because it was technically very hard to perform. But after I was deeply moved by the recordings of Han’s version performed by the geomungo player, Im Dong-sik, who died in his 30th, so I decided to learn and master the version. In his recording, I could communicate with him understanding his deep and thick sound, but at times, like the large waves smashing the rocks. That’s why it is hard to deliver the inner sound in sanjo, and this is why people learn and perform sanjo for their life time.
She also teaches at the Chukye University of Arts and Mokwon University, and served as the deputy concertmaster of the Seoul Metropolitan Korean Music Orchestra (1990-1994). In addition to eight successful solo recitals, she has performed numerous concerts joining the renowned German artist Stephan Micus as soloist with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, KBS Korean Traditional Music Orchestra, and performing in the celebration concert for 120th anniversary of Korea-France relations. She has had impromptu performances with artists at the "Voice of Asia—Free Music Festival," concert tours in Germany, England, France, United States, China, Japan, Poland and other countries.

"Geomungo the Progressive, not the ‘Conservative’"

As times passes, the performing artists seem to become gradually resemble to their own instruments. Yoon Jeong Heo (32), a geomungo artist, also seems to resemble to the characteristics of her instrument, geomungo, reflected through her personality and mannerism, charming and elegant, like a deep sound of geomungo. Her mind was open for world with her gentle voice, innocent smile, sincere for her work and music. She was very humble when the photographer asked her to be bare foot at the photo studio when piture taken, she was more than willing to do so. She was very comfortable wearing non-traditional costumes although other traditional musicians insist to wear only traditional cloth while performing on stage. Also professionally performing other Korean traditional instruments, like kwengkwiri and ajeng, she has extended the limit of the geomungo, rather known as conservative instrument, with her outstanding musicality and artistry to stretch the musical limits that the Korean instruments have. She has performed with the best-known Korean free-jazz musicians such as Tae-hwan Kang and Dae-hwan Kim, as well as she has worked with numerous Western classical musicians, as collaborative and experimental performances, creating a cross-over genre with the Korean traditional music. A famous Pansori singer, Suk-sun An talked about Yoon Jeong Heo as “a beautiful musician who thoroughly understands the inner-most beauty of the geomungo,” while a music critic, So-Young Lee, said that “the future of the music of geomungo in the 21st century is solely depended on Yoong Jeong Heo.”

The Daughter of the Theater Director

“As long as I remember my childhood, my eyes were filled with the muppets, masks and actors on the stage. Instead of going to a pre-school and kinder garden I went to my father’s small theater, who dedicated his life to the Korean play and drama, madanggeuk, and learned how to speak, dance and play those traditional instruments. The traditional dance movement and the sound of the Korean instruments came to me very comfortably and were embedded to my heart and body naturally. Yoon Jeong Heo is a daughter of the well known theater director, Kyu Heo, who started his career as the producer and director for TV drama series, susabanjang, and eventually became the influential president/director of the Korean National Theater and Company, Guknipgeukjang. Mr. Heo discovered Yoon Jeong Heo’s musical talent ever since she was young and began to teach her Korean traditional dance and music.

Encountering with Samulnori (Percussion Ensemble)
Upon graduating college she had become an orchestral member at the Seoul City Traditional Orchestra, until she resigned soon after. Such a young age, although her outstanding musical skill gave her the second highest position at the orchestra, she could not fulfill her musical desire to challenge further with the geomungo. She said she would not forget her own joint performance with Japan’s best known music ensemble, “Sengseng Typung,” an ensemble equivalent to “Seulkidung” in Korea. The performance with them was the eye-opening moment for her how the traditional Japanese musical elements are intact, as a new cultural product, while successfully communicating with the modern contemporary world. She has realized the possibilities of her own music, especially with the geomungo, to speak to the world….
- THE KYUNGHYANG SHINMUN (February 11, 2000)

"Forgotten Geomungo"

Resonances of Resurrection
Koreans would name the geomungo first among all other Korean traditional instruments. The tranquility and deep sound of the geomungo comes from the noble spirit and gentle personalities of the performers who are required to have "right" mind. Perhaps this is why the geomungo traditionally has been representative of the aristocracy, as well as all Korean instruments. The geomungo also leads julpungryu, the traditional string chamber ensemble. However, the geomungo has been forgotten and has also lost its popularity, and recently, there is only a handful of geomungo players who are actively performing, and opportunities are rare to experience and hear this noble instrument. The modern audience, accustomed to contemporary sounds with fast rhythms and elaborated and decorative melodies, finds the sound of geomungo tedious and unappealing because of its typically low pitches and heavy timbre.
Many Korean traditional instruments are being rediscovered and resurrected through the contemporary trends in music in which the old traditions are being revived and modernized. Among those instruments the gayageum was the first to be popularized, followed by the haegeum associated with popular, well-known musicians such as Su-nyeon Jung and Eun-il Kang. And now, more recently, geomungo players have established ensembles, such as the geomungo ensemble, "The Geomungo Factory," (photo on the left), and along with well-established solo artists, such as Yoon Jeong Heo (photo on the right) who has released her first solo album, "The Seven Perspectives," are targeting the new, popular music audience, promoting the music of the geomungo.
Yoon Jeong Heo/ Geomungo Factory
Since graduating from Seoul National University, Yoon Jeong Heo has been actively performing geomungo as a soloist, as well as a primary ensemble member with Seulkidung, for ten years since 1998, having resigned her prestigious position in the Seoul Traditional Orchestra. Her new CD, "The Seven Perspectives," a long-anticipated collection of solo geomungo music, provides fresh experiences to many fans of Korean traditional music. Unlike many of the recordings well known to the general public which are commercially successful, "The Seven Perspectives" is unique and meaningful because it is a collection of newly-composed contemporary pieces for geomungo solo.
The Geomungo Factory, an ensemble established last year among five young geomungo musicians who were all graduated from the Korean National University of Arts, launched its active professional life with concerts on March 16 and 17. The ensemble is dedicated to premiere new music composed by the members themselves as part of its mission "to promote the geomungo to the general public," according to Suh Hae Ji, one of the members. She continued to say that the musical direction of the ensemble will focus on educating the public to the new energetic and vibrant music for the geomungo in contrast to the older notion that the geomungo’s music is heavy and still.
Continuing effort to reform the geomungo
In 2002 Prof. Jae-hwa Lee of Chugye University of Arts, a geomungo player who has also dedicated his life since 1980 to the reform the ancient instrument of geomungo, introduced a newly constructed geomungo of ten strings (four more than the original six strings). In the Geomungo Factory concert, a reconstructed geomungo was introduced. Called a “danhyungeum," it has shortened strings and a smaller size that enables a performer to hang it over the shoulder like a guitar, giving the musician freedom to move freely on the stage rather than sitting down in one spot. This reformation of the geomungo—only a recent phenomenon—is still in its early stage and will be examined for both positive and negative consequences. While the gayageum has been expanded to twenty-five strings, and the haegeum has been enlarged to include four strings, for the geomungo, "having more strings can be an obstacle for expressing unique characteristics of the sound of geomungo," said Prof. Jae-hwa Lee.
- THE HANKYOREH (March 18, 2007)


HEO Yoon-jeong Geomungo Solo, ,
2006, C&L Music Inc.

1. (Chanting of a person taking pleasure in cultivating moral senses) Composed by: Hwang Byeong-Ki
2. (Underplot) Composed by: Heo Yoon-Jeong
3. Composed by: Lee Geon-Yong
4. out of geomungo short pieces Composed by Lee Tae-Won
5. Solo piece No. 54 Composed by: Lee Seong-Cheon
6. Composed by Lee Hae-Sik
7. 'Desk is desk' out of composed by: Lee Tae-Won



HEO Yoon-jeong
Geomungo solist, composer
HEO Yoon-jeong is an active Geomungo soloist and composer. Her talents cut across various musical genres, expanding the possibilities of Geomungo and Korean music by bringing together different genres ranging from traditional music, impromptu music, and contemporary music.

She learned the Geomungo Sanjo under the living treasure, HAN Kap-deuk and she has since been designated official successor of the Intangible Asset #16. She received KBS Grand Prize of Korean Traditional Music Award 2009, Meritorious Citation/ ROK Ministry of Culture, Sport, Tourism 2008, 2007-2008 Artist Residence Fellowship of Rockefeller foundation “'Asian Cultural Council New York”. Her album, “Seven Perspectives”(2006 C&L Music Inc.) was the last Korean music which was introduced by Charlie Gillett in his BBC World of Music.
She has held thirteen solo recitals from 1998 to 2010, performed as part of numerous groups and festivals. HEO is leading world music project “Tori ensemble”, “EASTrio” (East Asia String Trio :Korea/Geomungo, China/Pipa, Japan/Shamisen) and Tori Ensemble performed 2010 WOMEX opening concert(the Chaomos of Korean music) in Copenhagen.

The Korean traditional six-stringed zither is said to have been created by Wang San-Ak of the Goguryeo Kingdom in the 4th century; its prototype is found in the ancient murals of Goguryeo. It has six twisted silk strings, which are stretched over 16 fixed frets. The instrument is plucked with a short bamboo rod, which is held in the right hand, and produces deep and majestic sounds. The instrument was particularly revered by the literati of the Joseon Dynasty Particularly.

Activities by years (recent 3 years)

- festival THE WILD WILD EAST : TORI ensemble (Utrecht & Amsterdam, Netherland)
- Sendesaal-Bremen invitational concert : TORI ensemble (Bremen, Germany)
- Centre Culturel Coreen invitational concert (Paris, France)
- Korean Cultural Center UK invitational concert (London, UK)

- 2010 WOMEX opening concert (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Composer and performer of internet concert 'ResoNations‘ (UN present/ U.S.A, China, Korea)
- Gwangju World Music Festival : East Asia String Trio “EASTrio” (Gwangu , Korea)
-Changwoo World Music Workshop Festival : EASTrio (Seoul, Korea)
-Kioi Hall invitational concert “The night of Korean Traditional Music” (Tokyo, Japan)

-TFF.Rudolstadt - Folk, roots and worldmusic festival (Rudolstadt, Germany)
-EBS SPACE HEO Yoon-jeong’s Geomungo concert (Seoul, Korea)

- Bukchon Changwoo Theater Solo recital “Geomungo Electronika” (Seoul, Korea)
-USA Tour with Tori Ensemble at NY Asia Society / Smithsonian Premier Gallery (New York, U.S.A)
-Geomungo quartet “IM Dong-shik Geomungo Sanjo Full Repertoire” (Seoul, Korea)
-KTPAA Regular Concerts as Special Guest (New York, U.S.A)
- A Special Concert of 21c Korean Music Project “The Korea New Music 'Here & Now' “(New York,
- The Stone recital “Double Geomungo : KIM Jin-hi & HEO Yoon-jeong” (New York, U.S.A)
- The Korea Society “Reinventing Traditional Korean Music of HEO Yoon-jeong” (New York, U.S.A)


- KBS Grand Prize of Korean Traditional Music Award
- Meritorious Citation/ ROK Ministry of Culture, Sport, Tourism
- Artist Residence Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation 'Asian Cultural Council‘ : New York, U.S.A
- Award in the Traditional Korean Music Category of the “Most Literate Awards”
- Korean Literature Year Organizing Committee
- Meritorious Citation/ ROK Ministry of Culture and Tourism