University of Pittsburgh

Jonghee Kang's Composition

Jonghee Kang with Tong Soon Lee (PhD 1998)

Jonghee Kang, a graduate student in composition and theory, has had a busy and successful year. She completed a commission for gayageum ensemble, won the Dead Elf Prize in composition, and will participate in festivals in Münster, Germany and Buffalo, New York in the coming months.

In February, Kang traveled to Emory University in Atlanta where she presented Maedup (Knots) for an ensemble of 12-string gayageum (a Korean long-board zither). Emory Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology Dr. Tong Soon Lee (PhD 1998) commissioned Maedup and led the Emory Gayageum Ensemble in a reading of the work during a 90-minute workshop titled "A forum with Jonghee Kang and the Emory Gayageum Ensemble." The workshop involved students from Lee’s ethnomusicology seminar and allowed for a discussion of many of the issues surrounding the composition and new music for gayageum. In particular, Kang was able to share her perspectives on blending western compositional approaches with traditional Korean music, challenges in notation, and performance practice and interpretation of modern gayageum music.

More recently, Kang received the 2013 Dead Elf Music Prize, awarded each year to a Department of Music graduate student in composition and theory. An anonymous panel selected Kang’s composition Drawing (for flute, percussion, piano, violin, cello) as the winning composition. The award carries with it a cash prize of $250. 

This May, Kang will participate in the Musik Unserer Zeit (Music of Our Time) Festival at the Musikhochschule Münster. The theme for this year’s festival is contemporary music of Korea. Her music will be featured along with other Korean composers such as Isang Yun, Younghi Pagh-Paan, and Cecilia Heejeong Kim. Four of Kang’s pieces will be performed including Cube Play at 10 for Guitar Solo, Re:, Cube Play at 10 for Woodwind Quintet, and Poong, Ryoo (Wind, Stream). She will also give a lecture addressing Korean composers’ concern with musical identity.

Not long after returning from Germany, Kang heads to Buffalo for June in Buffalo, a festival and conference dedicated to composers. This year’s festival will include performances of Kang’s solo cello work Montage

Not surprisingly, Kang relishes the busy schedule of composing and traveling that comes with the growing appreciation of her work.

"It's always exciting to meet and interact with performers and composers who care about the same genre of art as I do,” says Kang. “The Dead Elf Prize is an award of encouragement. I'm grateful for that and for all these positive opportunities unfolding in front of me."

Find out more about Jonghee Kang and her music.

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