On April 8, Ohio Regional Music Arts and Cultural Outreach (ORMACO) launched its Spring 2019 World Tour of Music residency in Brunswick. Korean komungo virtuoso and Guggenheim Fellow composer Jin Hi Kim presented the first two of a week-long series of Cross-Cultural programs to the very receptive and attentive sixth and seventh graders at Edwards Middle School. The Brunswick presentations were underwritten by the Brunswick Rotary; Rotarian Stan Socha spoke briefly to the students.
Cross-Cultural Musical Meditation (CCMM) is "an exposure to the basic aesthetic and philosophy of Asian music and instruments." These sessions give their audiences/participants a first-hand experience of the role music plays in meditation and the benefits it offers to develop a calm, peaceful, focused group activity.
Kim, a widely acclaimed composer, has performed her own komungo compositions at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, Asia Society, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Royal Festival Hall (London), and several other prestigious venues around the world.
Among her many awards are Fellowship for the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy), Fulbright Specialist Program to Vietnam, and Asian Cultural Council Fellowships to Indonesia and Japan.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Kim has been in the United States 39 years. She is known as a pioneer for introducing komungo into the American contemporary music scene. Kim is a Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, in Connecticut.
Prior to beginning her presentation, she greeted the student body with the properly respectful greeting of her native country. She then invited the group of student volunteers, minus their shoes, to join her by sitting on the gym floor for an exercise to ready the mind for meditation.
After performing different quiet sounds with singing bowls, finger cymbals, temple blocks, a harmonium and clappers, the group walked together in a circle, and then moved to the Korean drums whose varying sounds represented yin and yang, all the opposites in life.
By the end of the hour, with their classmates absorbing the new sounds and simple movements, students Grace Mullen, Jonathon Lynn Boggs, Brandon Cleal, Madison Shaw, Anthony Bellisario, Avelana DeBolt, Audrey Pasko, Liana Sargsyan, Gracie Albright, and Abbey Ivory, had participated in the first of two sessions of hands-on lessons leading up to Kim's playing of komungo, a stringed instrument originated in Korea in the fourth century; her musical compositions represent an evolution of the instrument into the 21st century.
Later that afternoon, Kim presented another program at the Brunswick Library. On the evenings of April 9, 10, and 11, she is scheduled to present more Cross-Cultural and Korean Music programs at the Highland Library, the Medina Library, and at the Village of Seville respectively. Medina County District Library sponsored the library workshops.
The week will culminate April 13 with an 8 p.m. free concert for the community at the Akron-Summit Public Library, 60 South High Street, Akron. Kim will be joined by students from Fairlawn-Copley High School for an evening of both traditional Korean komungo music and innovative Cross-Cultural pieces.
Kim told the students cultural exposure is important. They will not always stay where they are now, so they should try to learn about other cultures. Music is the perfect opportunity to do that since it is a universal language that does not always need words to carry its messages.
The Spring 2019 residency is made possible in part, with underwriting from The Akron-Summit Public Library, The Medina County District Library, Brunswick Rotary and Jan Leatherman.
ORMACO is "a mostly volunteer non-profit with the mission of making music, arts and culture accessible to all, with a focus on the underserved, disadvantaged and rural populations."