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Program for Wooden Fish Ensemble – April 23, 2023

Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 4 pm

download a copy of this program here.

From Korea to America – 120 Years & Beyond
Wooden Fish Ensemble

celebrates the 120th year of Korean immigration in the US
Music from Korea – Old and New

Thomas Schultz, piano; San-ky Kim, tenor
Hyunchae Kim, kayageum; Peter Josheff, clarinet
Ilana Blumberg, violin; Ellen Ruth Rose, viola; Thalia Moore, cello


Fragrance in the Forest (Kayageum Byungchang)
         Hyunchae Kim, kayageum and voice

Kayageum Sanjo
         Hyunchae Kim, kayageum

Hyo-shin Na
That Old Question* (2020)
San-ky Kim, tenor
         Hyunchae Kim, kayageum


Hyo-shin Na
Ocean/Shore 2 (2003) for clarinet, violin, viola, and cello
Peter Josheff, clarinet; Ilana Blumberg, violin
         Ellen Ruth Rose, viola; Thalia Moore, cello

Hyo-shin Na
From Korea to America — 120 years and Beyond* (2022)
for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, kayageum, and piano
      I. On a Cargo Ship
      II. The Flow
      III. While Crossing
      IV. Happiness Piece
      V. Turning-Point

Peter Josheff, clarinet; Ilana Blumberg, violin
         Ellen Ruth Rose, viola; Thalia Moore, cello
         Hyunchae Kim, kayageum; Thomas Schultz, piano

* – World Premiere

A reception will follow the concert. Everyone in the audience is cordially invited!

About the music

Kayageum Byungchang (Fragrance in the Forest) is a piece in which the musician both plays the instrument and sings the text, which is:

Green Trees and Fragrant Grasses
When green trees and fragrant grasses are better than flowers, the sun moves slowly.
The last day of April has gone, May 5 th by the lunar calendar, is the best time of the year.
The day gets longer little by little outside the window.
Shrikes have come to the forest dense with green trees.
Hen pheasants often fly out of lush vegetation.
The air is clear, the moon shines, a kite flies in the high sky, and a fish swims in the deep water.
Sea gull, don’t fly away. I don’t intend to catch you.
My king deserted me, so I am here to see you.
I cleared the ground in a rural area and built a house out of trees.
I ate vegetables, drank water and rested.
Isn’t this a luxurious life for a man?
I miss my parents so much and am filled with sorrow.
Cherries are red by a beautiful window, and a young girl resents the separation from her lover who went to war.
Swings are made on high branches of pine and willow trees.
Beautiful girls wearing blue jackets and red skirts move back and forth,
My friend has gone somewhere, not knowing that it is the 5th of May today.
The last day of May has gone.
July 15 th by the lunar calendar is a good day.
The sunshine melts an iron pot down, I should go somewhere to avoid the heat of summer.
Let me have some fun in the picturesque landscape with beautiful flowers.

(from the translation by Seung-bae Park)

Kayageum Sanjo originated as southern folk music and developed into a highly virtuosic solo instrumental form that traditionally begins very slowly and gradually gains speed and complexity.

When I studied Chinese many years ago, I liked one of Li-Po’s poems called On a Moonlit Evening Listening to Lu Zishun Play the Qin and made a loose translation from the Chinese into Korean. Many years later, when San-ky Kim commissioned me to compose something for himself and a kayageum player, I remembered this poem and composed That Old Question. I must admit that I substituted the Korean “kayageum” for the Chinese “qin”!

The sense of the poem is:

Sitting all by myself in the moonlight away from everyone in this world
Sound from afar
Is it a sound of kayageum?
Or is it a sound of the wind passing like a sigh?
Or is it a pine tree singing in the winter?
Or is it a sound of snow falling into my hands?
Or is it a sound falling over my quiet heart?
Nobody anywhere in this world remembers the song
You used to sing.

Ocean/Shore 2 (2003) is the second in a series, following Ocean/Shore (2002) for chamber orchestra and piri (Korean bamboo oboe) solo. Each piece is a study on the use and coexistence of diverse materials and instruments. As in the meeting and interaction of water and land, these instruments can have fundamentally very different characters (piri and violin, or clarinet and cello), yet shouldn’t lose their basic nature in the interests of harmony, or even beauty.

Ocean/Shore was made of diverse elements: sounds of the piri and the western chamber orchestra, songs of the Indians of Northern California, and impressions of the coast of California itself — water, rain, fog, mist, light, trees, grasses, hills, and rocks.

Ocean/Shore 2 resembles a collection of immigrant stories: dreams, failures, confusion, disappointment, hope. It was commissioned for Earplay by the Zellerbach Foundation to celebrate the 100th year of Korean American immigration and was premiered at the 2003 San Francisco International Arts Festival.

I’ve spent much of the year 2022 writing a series of 5 pieces called From Korea to America – 120 Years and Beyond for clarinet in B flat, violin, viola, cello, sanjo kayageum/25 string kayageum, and piano. These 5 pieces were inspired by my interviews with 5 long-time friends who’ve come from Korea and have lived in California. The 5 pieces are titled: I. On a Cargo Ship, II. The Flow, III. While Crossing, IV. Happiness Piece, and V. Turning-Point.

On a Cargo Ship was inspired by a friend who came to the US on a cargo ship instead of in an airplane many decades ago. She’s become very successful as a pharmacist and has given big donations to a Korean university at which she’d been educated before coming to the US.

I began to imagine the beginning of The Flow while listening to a friend’s talking about her life in California as a hardworking and kind neighbor.

A long-time college professor in Korea in her 50s came to the US and began a business. While Crossing the Pacific Ocean, my friend and her husband promised to begin over fresh in the US. They’ve become successful with their business and are now comfortably retired.

Educated as a pianist in Korea, this friend became a banker in the US. She and her husband achieved their American dream and have led a very happy life together. Happiness Piece came to me as I was happily listening to her story.

One of my friends came to the US when she was 3 months old as an adoptee of an American family. She didn’t have much contact with other Koreans until she moved to Northern California where she first heard traditional music from Korea. That Korean music strengthened her identity as a Korean American. She’s now a professor of music. While listening to her talking about her passion for Korean music, I thought of the last section of Turning-Point.

I composed this series of 5 pieces with generous support from the San Francisco Artist Grant.

About the musicians

In Korea Hyo-shin Na has twice been awarded the Korean National Composers Prize (for Western instrumental music & for Korean traditional instrumental music), and in the west she has been commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Argosy Foundation, the W & F Hewlett Foundation, the Elaine and Richard Fohr Foundation, InterMusic SF, the Other Minds Festival, and the Los Angeles International New Music Festival among many others. Her music has been played worldwide by ensembles as varied as the Barton Workshop, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Kronos Quartet, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the National Gugak Center Orchestra of Korea, the Del Sol String Quartet, the Ives Quartet, the Earplay Ensemble, New Music Works, the Pacific Chamber Orchestra and the Korean Traditional Orchestra of the National Theatre among many others. Numerous groups and individual musicians, such as New Music Works in the US, the Barton Workshop in Europe, and the Jeong Ga Ak Hoe Ensemble in Asia have presented portrait concerts devoted solely to her music.

Hyo-shin Na has written for western instruments, and for traditional Korean and Japanese instruments and has written music that combines western and Asian instruments and ways of playing. Her music for traditional Korean instruments is recognized by both composers and performers in Korea (particularly by the younger generation) as being uniquely innovative. Her writing for combinations of western and eastern instruments is unusual in its refusal to compromise the integrity of differing sounds and ideas; she prefers to let them interact, coexist and conflict in the music.

She is the author of the bilingual book Conversations with Kayageum Master Byung-ki Hwang (Pulbit Press, 2001). Her music has been recorded on the Fontec (Japan), Top Arts (Korea), Seoul (Korea) and New World Records (US) labels and has been published in Korea and Australia. Since 2006 her music has been published exclusively by Lantro Music (Belgium). She is currently working on a piece for violin and piano.

Thomas Schultz has established an international reputation both as an interpreter of music from the classical tradition—particularly Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt—and as one of the leading exponents of the music of our time. Among his recent engagements are solo recitals in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris, Ghent, Seoul, Taipei and Kyoto, and at the Schoenberg Festival in Vienna, the Piano Spheres series in Los Angeles, Korea’s Tongyoung Festival, the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento and the April in Santa Cruz Festival. From 2004 to 2011 he gave a series of six recitals at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, playing repertoire ranging from major works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Chopin to rarely heard music by Schoenberg, Rzewski, Cage and Na. He has also given recitals in New York at Bargemusic and the Goethe Institute. He has appeared as a soloist at the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, and in chamber music performances with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Da Camera Society of Houston, Robert Craft’s 20th Century Classics Ensemble and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. In 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2017 he gave masterclasses on the piano music of the Second Viennese School at the Schoenberg Center in Vienna and in 2016 gave performances of the complete solo works of Schoenberg in Vienna, San Francisco, Seoul and Taegu, Korea. Beginning in the summer of 2018, he is giving an annual series of masterclasses for young artists at Stanford University.

His recitals are notable for programming that celebrates the continuing vitality of the piano repertoire, juxtaposing the old and the new. He has worked closely with such eminent composers as Cage, Feldman, Wolff, Rzewski, Earle Brown, Jonathan Harvey, Hyo-shin Na and Elliott Carter (in performances of the Double Concerto at the Colorado Music Festival and at Alice Tully Hall in New York). Since 2002, Schultz has included in his recitals works written especially for him by Rzewski, Wolff, Na, Walter Zimmermann, and Boudewijn Buckinx. In 2012—John Cage’s centennial year—Schultz was Artistic Director of the John Cage – 100 Years Festival at Stanford University and played recitals dedicated to Cage’s solo piano music at the festival, at Crown Point Press gallery in San Francisco, and at Bargemusic in NYC.

Schultz’s musical studies were with John Perry, Leonard Stein and Philip Lillestol. He has been a member of the piano faculty at Stanford University since 1994.

Peter Josheff (clarinet/bass clarinet) is a founding member of Earplay. He is also a member of the Empyrean Ensemble and has performed with many of the new music groups in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Berkely Contemporary Chamber Players, the Left Coast Ensemble, and Composers, Inc. He has performed at the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pacific Rim Festival in Santa Cruz and the Sacramento Festival of New Music. In August 2000 he performed music of Hi Kyung Kim as part of Asian Music Week 2000 in Yokohama, Japan. In the past year he has played in the ODC Theater production of Erling Wold’s opera A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil and with the Lawrence Pech Dance Company.

Josheff has an active interest in popular and improvised music. He has performed and recorded with Club Foot Orchestra and Beth Custer’s Clarinet Thing, and has collaborated with many artists, poets and dancers. His playing can be heard on recordings by Earplay, the Empyrean Ensemble, the Club Foot Orchestra, Beth Custer, Hi Kyung Kim, Richard Festinger, and others on the Elektra, CRI, Centaur, Arhoolie and Rastascan record labels. He has works dedicated to him by David Rakowski, Ross Bauer, Allen Shearer, Mark Winges, Michiko Kawagoe, and others. Also a composer, Josheff is currently writing a work commissioned for the Empyrean Ensemble to be performed in February 2001. His song cycle, Remembering, will be performed in November in the Bay Area by Schwungvoll. Josheff teaches clarinet privately and at San Francisco State University.

Following her solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony, Ilana Blumberg has appeared across the United States and internationally, including appearances at Tanglewood, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival. She is currently in demand as a chamber musician, collaborating with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Earplay, UC Berkeley’s eco ensemble, Ensemble for these Times, and working with Philip Glass and Opera Parallèle last season. As an orchestral musician, Ms. Blumberg serves as Associate Concertmaster of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, where she performed as a featured soloist last season, and appears regularly with Symphony Silicon Valley, the Berkeley Symphony, Oakland Symphony, West Edge Opera, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, and the Sacramento Philharmonic, among others. Previously, she held the position of Associate Concertmaster with the Albany Symphony Orchestra in New York State for seven seasons, as well as performing in New York City with renowned chamber orchestras and on Broadway in productions including Aida and The Producers. She appears on a variety of recordings released by Deutsche Grammophon, Argo, and Albany Records, has recorded for film and television, including in Wynton Marsalis’ award-winning educational series Marsalis on Music, and performs and tours with bands on five-string electric violin. She has supported an array of musicians from Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti to electronic duo ODESZA, Sarah Brightman, Josh Groban, Warren Haynes and countless others. Her other passions include distance running, cooking, and writing.

Violist Ellen Ruth Rose relocated in 1998 to the San Francisco Bay Area from Cologne, Germany, where she spent several years immersed in experimental contemporary music. As a member of the contemporary and experimental ensembles Musik Fabrik and Thurmchen Ensemble and as frequent guest with Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, she premiered and recorded countless works as chamber musician and soloist. She has performed as a soloist with the West German Radio Chorus and appeared at the Cologne Triennial, Berlin Biennial, Salzburg Zeitfluß, Brussels Ars Nova, Venice Biennial and Budapest Autumn festivals.

She has interpreted more traditional chamber music repertory at the Marlboro Music, the International Musicians Seminar in Cornwall, England, the Banff Center for the Arts, and at chamber music festivals in Germany, Italy and Finland. She is presently a member of the Empyrean Ensemble, a new music ensemble in residence at UC Davis, and Earplay, and has appeared with several other area ensembles, including Left Coast Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Santa Cruz New Music Works, Composers, Inc., the Sacramento Chamber Music Society, and at the San Francisco Other Minds Festival.

Ms. Rose holds an M.M. in viola performance from the Juilliard School, an artist diploma with highest distinction from the Northwest German Music Academy in Detmold, Germany, and a B.A. with honors in English and American history and literature from Harvard University. Her viola teachers have included Heidi Castleman, Nobuko Imai, Marcus Thompson and Karen Tuttle. She teaches privately in Berkeley and also at UC Davis.

Thalia Moore is a native of Washington D.C. She began her cello studies with Robert Hofmekler, and after only 5 years of study appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. She attended the Julliard School of Music as a scholarship student of Lynn Harrell, and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in 1979 and 1980. While at Juilliard, she was the recipient of the Walter and Elsie Naumberg Scholarship and won first prize in the National Arts and Letters String Competition.

Since 1982, Ms. Moore has been Associate Principal Cellist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and in 1989 joined the cello section of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. She has continued to concertize extensively, appearing as soloist at Avery Fisher Hall, (Lincoln Center), Carnegie Recital Hall, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Herbst Theater, (San Francisco), and San Francisco Legion of Honor, among others. She has also performed as guest artist at the Olympic Music Festival, (Seattle), the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival, and the Music in the Vineyards Chamber Music Festival, among others. In 1991, Ms. Moore appeared in the last episode of the TV series, Midnight Caller, and in 1993 was featured as soloist with the San Francisco Chamber Symphony under the direction of Roger Norrington. In 1996, she performed one of the first Bay Area performances of the composer’s version of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. She has performed with the Dunsmuir Piano Quartet, and is a member of the Empyrean Ensemble, with which she has recorded works by Mario Davidovsky and Maria Niederberger. Recently, she was named a Cowles Visiting Artist at Grinnell College, Iowa, and in 1999 won election to the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Following his debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company, tenor San-ky Kim’s career led to Europe, performing in Helsinki, Biel, Bern, Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent, Lisbon, and Prague before settling in Germany. At the Czech National Opera in Prague, San-ky essayed all of Mozart’s lyric tenor heroes, as well as Italian Bel Canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti. San-ky has performed more than 40 major tenor operatic roles throughout the world. San-ky has taught at TCU since 2005 and his research focuses on modern European Art Song repertoire. San-ky served as a Fulbright Scholar visiting professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania during 2015-16 academic year.

Born in Korea in 1984, Hyunchae Kim spent her childhood in Jinju, a small city in the southern part of the country where she began to learn kayageum. She moved to Seoul at the age of fifteen and entered the National Gugak High School where she started her professional training as a musician.

Hyunchae Kim graduated from Seoul National University majoring in kayageum and finished her Masters and Doctorate degrees at Seoul National University, writing her dissertations on kayageum sanjo music. She won first prize in the traditional music competition held at the National Gugak Center in 2009 and the Presidential Prize in the Gurye Kayageum Competition in 2019. She has also been designated as Apprentice of Kayageum Sanjo & Byeongchang, National Intangible Cultural Asset No. 23.

Hyunchae Kim was a member of the Korean music ensemble Jeong Ga Ak Hoe for seven years, performing both the traditional and contemporary repertoire. She encountered Hyo-shin Na while working on one of her pieces for traditional Korean instruments; she has premiered six new kayageum pieces by Na since 2010. She recorded her first album Kim Hyunchae Kayageum Sanjo in 2010 and her second album Hyun-chae Kim Plays Music for Solo Kayageum by Hyo-shin Na in 2021.

She taught kayageum at Seoul National University in 2017–2022 and a class in Korean music at Gachon University in 2016-2022. She is a member of the Society for the Preservation of the Choi Ok-sam school of Kayageum Sanjo, and a member of the Asia Zither Musicians’ Association (AZMA). She has recently moved to United States for the artist in residence program at the Korean Performing Arts Institute of Chicago (KPAC).

This concert was made possible, in part, with generous support from the San Francisco Artist Grant.

Special thanks to –
Young Za Kim
In Sook Kim
Kyung Ja Kim
Kun Hi Sunoo
Adria Otte
Susan Ha




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