11/1/2020, IBK Hall, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, South Korea.
One of the important reasons for musicians to make music is ‘love’ – to be loved or to share love. Maybe, that is also one of the most important reasons for individuals to continue living. In Sonata Amabile, I hope to share an assortment of my own stories and views about wanting, sharing, and resisting love. In doing so, I borrow voices of three different imaginary and symbolic female figures from the late Joseon Dynasty (about 18-19th century Korea): a Gisaeng (the Korean version of Geisha), a mother, and a Mudang (shaman – in Korea, shamans are mostly female).
Movement 1, Kki is about a Gisaeng and the pressure to be ‘lovable/lovely’ at all times. The violin part represents ‘remaining lovely’ throughout the movement, whether the piano part is flirting with her or violently against her. The melodies in this movement are adopted from Taepyeongga, (which is about taking some time off to enjoy life) a folk song from Gyeonggi-do province, which is believed to be one of the most significant repertoires performed by Gisaeng.
Movement 2, Mo is about a mother (actually, my own mother, with changes made to be faithful to the background of 18-19c Korea), who selflessly gives love to her children. Her love is represented with two types of prayers: Banya Shimkyung (Buddhist one) + Binari (Shaman one), both wishing the peace and prosperity of her family. (My mother is a Protestant, however). I incorporate their rhythmic patterns and gestures in this movement, as well as many percussive effects in both parts.
Movement 3, Mu is about a Mudang who is loved by the gods, very likely against her own will. It is believed in South Korea that if someone is chosen by a spirit, he/she would go through a series of supernaturally unfortunate events from simple sickness to deaths in his/her family, until he/she takes the spirit’s will with becoming a Mudang. The ritual of accepting a spirit is called Naerim-Gut, which is the phenomenon that inspired this movement. The high clusters in the piano part at the beginning of this movement, for example, signify the bell tree sound that is pervasively prominent in the ritual.
Thinking about love as the foremost commandment, movements 1, 2, and 3, respectively, are about our struggles to follow it; loving even more voluntarily, and becoming the commandment itself, eventually.
Sonata Amabile was commissioned by Seoul International Music Festival. I hope that my piece might stimulate the audience’s imagination fully and invite it to mediate freely on love. This active interaction should be another chapter of our love stories.
– Texu Kim