Kim So Ra

Kim So Ra

Korean percussionist Kim So Ra will join with Baltimore County Public Schools students on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 8:15-9:00 a.m.

The online event is free and open to all.

The musician will be featured as part of the new Homefront: World Culture in Context initiative. This unique program connects students to renowned artists from across the globe performing in the places that have profoundly informed their work, accompanied by virtual, live conversations about creativity, belonging, and culture. The series was launched in November by the BCPS Office of Social Studies and Department of Career and Technical Education and Fine Arts and the Baltimore-based Creative Alliance.

The Feb. 17 event will celebrate the Korean Lunar New Year on Feb. 12 and will introduce students to Kim So Ra, a master Korean drummer whose music is steeped in an ancient tradition.

At the heart of Kim So Ra’s music is Korean pungmul music, a folk percussion style that originated 2,000 years ago. Pungmul ensembles have been integral part of village life in Korea and are still found throughout the country. Most performances are outside, with dozens of players in constant motion, drumming, twirling, dancing. It was originally played as part of farm work, on holidays, and to accompany shamanistic rituals. It is thought the original sounds of the music mimicked the repetitive motion of working the earth.

In the late 1970s, a contemporary form of pungmul called samulnori was created. Samulnori uses four of the core pungmul drums, each of which symbolize an element of nature: janggu, the hour-glass shaped drum that represents the rain; buk, the barrel drum that represents the clouds; jing, a large gong that represents the wind; and kkwaenggwari, the small, handheld gong that represents thunder.

Kim So Ra is one of the leading musicians of samulnori drumming in the world. Her primary instrument is the janggu, the rain sound of the samulnori ensemble, for which she composes new music.

A practitioner of an ancient art form now reimagined for a contemporary context, her solo performance for BCPS students is set in the Euljiro neighborhood of Seoul, a community where the ancient and modern exist side by side.

Previous Homefront performances featured renowned bluesman Jontavious Willis, broadcasting from Georgia and master throat singer Bady-Dorzhu Ondar, broadcasting from Siberia.