T h e N a t i o n a l Gugak Center h a s f o u r o rg a n i z a t i o n s and Court Music Orchestra is a representative group of them that mainly plays court music (Jeong-ak in Korean), the brilliant music of ancestors. Court Music Orchestra performs not only national events or Korean traditional songs but also the music for the Royal Ancestral Ritual in the Jongmyo Shrine which is registered as world cultural heritage. Since this year, Lee Sang-won has been appointed as the Artistic Director of Court Music Orchestra. He held several chief and orchestra master positions after joining here as a Daegeum performer in 1991 and received many prizes including the President’s Award. He completed his master’s and doctorate degree at Hanyang University Graduate School and is now teaching practical skills to students as a professor at his alma mater.
Q. You have been working hard on the development of Daegeum and Korean traditional music for a long time. Is there any reason you became interested in an instrument called Daegeum?
A. When I was in junior high school, I became interested in it after I saw a traditional art performance at my school. After that, I entered Gugak National High School and chose Daegeum as my major, being fascinated by its tone which is calm but sometimes very intense. Through fullscale training at the university and being a great player at the National Gugak Center, I have performed 7 recitals, hundreds of domestic and international performances, and dozens of solos so far.
Q. Even before being appointed as the Artistic Director, you have demonstrated various leadership skills at Court Music Orchestra. How could you lead the whole team members and what is your thought on the qualification of leadership?
A. When I was appointed as the Master of Court Music Orchestra after the chief position, I tried hard to understand the difficulties through communication among members ahead of leading them musically. A deep conversation could prevent problems or mistakes from recurring with the belief that the performance cannot be a “good” one if it hurts the hearts of performers, even if the result seems successful. I do think that conflicts always arise when people gather; therefore, good leadership refers to one that knows how to resolve them rather than to worry about them.
Q. Do you have any experience of having difficulties in the process of keeping the tradition while you have been striving steadily for the development of court music?
A. Keeping and continuing the tradition means more than a sense of duty. We all know that Korea’s traditional culture is outstanding but it is more important to understand its strengths and weaknesses in order to convey the culture accurately. Therefore, one should constantly study how to deliver our culture and spirit well enough rather than accepting them unconditionally. Whenever I face some difficulties, I could keep overcoming through being impressed by precious audiences and listeners who love our music.
Q. Can you tell us your current vision as the Artistic Director of Court Music Orchestra?
A . D u e t o C O V I D - 1 9 , w e h a v e communicated with the audience through non-face-to-face performances. Rather, more people got interested in our culture from home and abroad through these online performances. Thus, I will further develop the contents of online performance with the person in charge and strive to establish the identity of our culture so as to maintain this attention and interest in Korean traditional culture.