JeongGaAkHoe Performance Tour of Costa Rica and Mexico

Rewarding Opportunity to Promote Traditional Korean Music
Chun Jae-hyun, Representative, JeongGaAkHoe
JeongGaAkHoe, a traditional Korean music ensemble, conducted a month-long performance tour of Costa Rica and Mexico. The group staged several performances in Costa Rica, including the closing ceremony at the Credomatic Music Festival, and then performed at three Mexican cities in the State of Jalisco.



After departing from Korea on August 4, JeongGaAkHoe members returned home at the end of the month, but not before enjoying a memorable performance tour of the Central American countries of Costa Rica and Mexico. Throughout Central America, the group marveled at the skies, forests, waters, animals, and people, along with being awed by the vast seas of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and even losing their way amidst the tropical rainforest of a mountainous area. After experiencing the natural environment of Central America with all our senses, the members sought to reflect this inspiration in the performance of their Korean music at every venue of the tour. Although constantly on the go, the performance tour left everyone with a great sense of pride and satisfaction.
Assigned with the important mission of promoting Korea¡¯s cultural diplomacy and with sponsorship assistance from the Korea Foundation, JeongGaAkHoe performed during the closing ceremony of the 20th Credomatic Music Festival, as well as another eight performances, in Costa Rica. Thereafter, the Korean group made its way to three cities in the State of Jalisco of Mexico to introduce Korean music to audiences with little direct exposure to Korean culture.

Costa Rica Music Festival
Various Korean news media were aware that the Credomatic Music Festival is the largest event of its kind in Costa Rica, but this marked the first time for a Korean music group to participate in the festival. This year, ten music groups from around the world, including JeongGaAkHoe and the Vienna Boys¡¯ Choir, staged all-out performances in response to the genuine warmth extended by the audiences in Costa Rica.
Daily coverage by leading local media, demonstrated the people¡¯s interest and appreciation of the music of Korea, despite their lack of familiarity with our music, from the other side of the globe. Of note, for one of the group¡¯s performance, the festival organizer had to arrange for a larger venue, at the National Theater of Costa Rica, after all the tickets were sold out for the original performance at a small-size theater. This showed the keen interest among Costa Rican residents for our Korean music performance.
The festival events were held in various cities, with the capital city of San José playing a central role. As the festival was organized in conjunction with major hotels, the visiting groups stayed at a hotel for three or four days for performances nearby.
The concert events were designed to take advantage of the natural resources of the hotels, such as a glorious sunset view, while the audience seemed to pay serious attention to the variety of new music forms. I cannot forget those who looked at us with wonder, early on, but soon warmed to the presentation of our unique music. Invariably, people from the audience would approach us after the performance to express their sincere appreciation of our music.
The repertoire of JeongGaAkHoe is comprised of court music, such as ¡°Daechita¡± and ¡°Boheoja,¡± vocal works of sijo and pansori, samulnori and folk music related to sanjo and sinawi, and an original contemporary musical piece, ¡°Flight into Absolute Solitude,¡± composed by Yoon Hye-jin. The performances featured a diversity of formats tailored to the venue conditions and the time allotted for our group. Our approach, of being flexible to suit the characteristics of each event and venue, rather than having a fixed program, turned out to be highly effective, which resulted in an enthusiastic response from the audiences.
The cooperative relations between the festival organizer and local hotels were commendable because it reduced the burden on the organizer and assured the festival participants of an enjoyable and problem-free stay, which left everyone so grateful for the Costa Rican hospitality. I was impressed by this concept, which might be applicable in Korea as well.



Appreciative Audiences in Mexico
The performance tour of three cities in Jalisco, Mexico, showed just how open and receptive the Mexican people are to foreign cultures. The group was awarded a plaque of appreciation from a city mayor as thanks for our performance.I believe this warm reception was a result of not just our performances but also the thoughtful efforts of the director and staff members of the Korean Cultural Center in Guadalajara, the organizer of our Mexican tour. This tour experience was related to their efforts to boost cultural exchange through a diversity of activities that sought to introduce various aspects of Korea and its culture. All along our performance tour, the group members were referred to as ¡°patriots,¡± which gave us with a great sense of pride and encouragement.
The preparation and implementation of the recent performance tour were undertaken silently but thoroughly. I would like to express my appreciation to the Korea Foundation for carefully coordinating the details between the relevant organizations and the performers, from the beginning to the end of our performance tour, and for also handling various follow-up matters. I am also thankful to the Korean Ambassador to Costa Rica and the embassy staff for their valuable support and cooperation. As a result of all this, JeongGaAkHoe members could return home with a prideful heart for having fulfilled this cultural diplomacy mission and doing our part to enhance the global image of Korea.