A Celebration of Culture that Unites the Two Koreas

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Court Music Orchestra of the National Gugak Center in Seoul, South Korea (Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Rim Festival at UC Santa Cruz)

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the possibility of war with North Korea. But the Pacific Rim Music Festival at U.C. Santa Cruz, and a pair of concerts at Cal Performances celebrate gugak, the national music of Korea. Gugak dates back to the 6th century, long before the two nations were divided, and the National Gugak Center in Seoul, South Korea preserves and celebrates the music.

Festival Director Hi Kyung Kim says she didn’t anticipate the current tensions between the world and North Korea when she programmed the festival, but the music still addresses that divide. “That is the spirit," Kyung Kim says, "that through music and culture, we can speak peacefully and we can be united.”

The Pacific Rim Festival is pairing the National Gugak Center Orchestra with chamber groups, playing new and traditional music (including three pieces by U.C. Berkeley professors) Oct. 25-29. And the orchestra plays two shows at Cal Performances on Oct. 28. For the U.C. Santa Cruz festival details here. For the Cal Performances shows at U.C. Berkeley on Oct. 28 (two shows plus a parade),  details here.