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New Sound Worlds: The OBF Composers Symposium returns

This year’s symposium, in collaboration with the Oregon Bach Festival, features guest artists from Seoul as well as Japanese shakuhachi, Balinese gamelan, and western classical ensemble.


OBFCS South Korean guest Artists in Residence Hyejeong Im, Eunah Noh and Eonhwa Lee.

The Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium has a longstanding tradition of promoting innovative and diverse compositions and performances. The theme this year, celebrating its 29th anniversary, is “Intercultural Composition and Performance,” highlighting the blending of cross-cultural musical traditions, styles, and influences. 

The symposium, hosted by the UO School of Music and Dance, brings together an international gathering of composers, composers/performers, performers, conductors, and guest artists. Its aim is to explore and create new music that combines Asian and western musical traditions. 

One of the key features of the symposium is three intercultural composition projects focusing on the music of South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia (specifically Bali). These projects aim to explore the intersection of different musical traditions, instrumentation, and performance techniques. They also provide a platform for collaboration and cultural exchanges among the participants. Public concerts showcasing new works composed and performed by participants and guest artists are scheduled for late June and early July, 

The first project brings to Eugene a special guest ensemble from Seoul, South Korea, comprising Eunah Noh (haegeum – two-string Korean fiddle), Eonhwa Lee (gayageum – plucked 12-string Korean zither), and Jung-Min Lim (daegeum – large Korean bamboo transverse flute), that will be joined by UO faculty member Wonkak Kim (clarinet), Artistic Director of Chamber Music Amici, Eunhye Grace Choi (piano), and members of the resident Artists Collaborative Ensemble (ACE) performing works composed by symposium participants.

Composer/performer Daniel De Togni will mentor participants in composing music for the shakuhachi, a vertical end-blown Japanese flute. Composers will have the opportunity to learn from him the expressive potential of this instrument in their new work, which may also include world instruments.

The symposium also features the OBFCS “Pacific Rim Gamelan,” with Robert Kyr, who is both the director and composer-in-residence (read more here). This ensemble will showcase the traditional Balinese gamelan, with the performance of music composed for it and world and western instruments.

In addition to the composition projects and performances, the symposium hosts a Composers Film Festival. Participants will have the chance to screen films for which they have composed music or films they have created themselves. This component offers a unique opportunity for composers to explore the intersection of music and newer media.

With over 30 international participants, the symposium spans 11 days and aims to foster a global community of artists. Symposium Director Kyr emphasizes the goal is to inspire and encourage intercultural collaboration and the co-creation of new artistic expressions in various disciplines, including music, instrumental and vocal performance, creative writing, filmmaking, photography, videography, and interdisciplinary art. In addition to participants engaging in musical performances, they will attend informative presentations, discussions, improv sessions, and have numerous professional and social opportunities to share ideas, experiences, and research with one another. 

The New Sound Worlds 2023 Public Concert Series concerts take place June 28 through July 5 at Aasen-Hull Concert Hall, and will be live streamed here. Tickets will be available at the door.

Wednesday, June 28 at 7:30 pm

“The Korean Music Project” A Concert of Traditional Korean Music. Co-sponsored by the University of Oregon Global Scholars Program

Sunday, July 2 at 7:30 pm

Ten Premieres of Intercultural Music Created by OBFCS Participants for traditional South Korean Instruments, with clarinet and piano. Featuring guest artists Eunah Noh, Eonhwa Lee, Jung-min Lim, and Eugene based Wonkak Kim (clarinet) with Eunhye Grace (piano). Sponsored by the Global Scholars Program, University of Oregon.

Tuesday, July 4 at 2:00 pm

Portland Center Stage presents Hair at the Armory Portland Oregon

Eight Premieres by OBFCS Participants of Intercultural Music for the Japanese Shakuhachi vertical end-blown flute and World Instruments featuring the Artists Collaborative Ensemble (ACE) and guest Shakuhachi artist Daniel De Togni.​

Wednesday, July 5 at 7:30 pm

Gamelan Celebration Concert. The Pacific Rim Gamelan premieres Intercultural music composed for Balinese Gamelan (metallophones, gongs and drums) and world Instruments.

For more information about this year’s symposium please visit its website. The deadline for applications to the symposium is June 5, 2023.

Gary Ferrington is a University of Oregon Sr. Instructor Emeritus whose career spanned over 30 years as the College of Education’s Instructional Systems Technology program director. He has been, since retiring in 1998, actively involved in the Eugene arts community serving for nine years on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts Center where he also coordinated its online and print public relations efforts. Since the closing of the center during the Great Recession he has committed himself to advocating for the performance of contemporary music and dance. He is a volunteer with the Eugene Ballet Company and is an advocate for the UO School of Music and Dance programs in music composition, Intermedia Technology, and jazz studies. His articles for Oregon ArtsWatch, focusing primarily on music, dance and occasionally theatre in Eugene, can be found online at artswatcharticles.blogspot.com.


One Response

  1. Exciting to see corroborations among Korean and Chinese traditional musical instruments and western classical musical instrument at the 2023 OBF.

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