Korean Music in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Korean Music in Canada

In the 1986 Census of Canada, 29,705 listed Korean as their single or multiple ethnic origin. Half of these lived in the Metropolitan Toronto area.

In the 1986 Census of Canada, 29,705 listed Korean as their single or multiple ethnic origin. Half of these lived in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Close to 7000 were born in Canada; 22,800 had immigrated - 7000 in the period 1978-86, 15,000 in the period 1967-77, and the remaining small number before 1967. Korean community organizations (the largest of which, in 1991, was the Korean-Canadian Association of Metropolitan Toronto) have presented in Toronto annual cultural events which sometimes feature Korean music.

The most important aspect of Korean musical tradition is learned folk music, vocal and instrumental. The traditions and instruments are described in Bang-song Song's 1974 study, which includes transcriptions of 21 Korean folksongs and nine instrumental works. Song, who was associated with both the University of Toronto and McGill University in the mid-1970s, later returned to Seoul as director of that city's National Classical Music Institute. By 1979 he had collected 34 songs and 22 instrumental pieces.

In 1990 the teacher and composer Kim Yung, a graduate in music from both the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, began editing the Korean-language periodical Church Music, published in Toronto.

Korean musicians living and performing western music in Canada have included the pianists In-Sung Chun (a former child prodigy) and Heekyung Koh; the violinists Mi Hyon Kim, Hyung-Sun Paik, Young-Dae Park (all three members of the TS in 1991), Yoon-Im Chang, and Bok-Soo Kim, the last of whom was concertmaster of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra for several years beginning in 1978; and the tenor Jae-Yu Paeng, who has recorded Korean Art Songs for RCA Victor. The Toronto Korean-Canadian Choir, founded by conductor Chai-Hoon Park in 1979, has performed Messiah, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and other works, frequently with visiting Korean vocal soloists. Among Korean pop performers who have appeared in Canada are the Comet Sisters and the Korean Seoul Kittens. The Little Angels of Korea, a children's choir, has toured in Canada, and the violinist Kyung-Wha Chung has performed frequently in Canada, both as soloist and in the Chung Trio with her brother Myung Whun Chung (piano) and sister Myung Wha Chung (cello); she has also recorded with the MSO. The violinist Young Uck Kim has also appeared in Canada, as has the soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, who sang in 1990 at Massey Hall with the Korean-Canadian Symphony Orchestra.

In 1977 the JM World Orchestra held its annual session in Seoul, and Otto Joachim and Paul Duplessis were instructors for strings and percussion respectively. The soprano Joan Patenaude gave a recital in Seoul in 1979, as did the organist Raymond Daveluy. The Korean composer Isang Yun devised the title role of his opera Sim Tjong for the Canadian soprano Lilian Sukis, who participated in the work's premiere at the Munich Olympic Festival in 1972. The Elmer Iseler Singers performed as part of the Olympic arts festival held in Seoul in 1988.

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