Music shows UI-S. Korea link


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A group of around 30 people sat in almost complete darkness in the Becker Building on Sunday night.

The audience members listened intently as electronic sounds emanated from eight different speakers set up around the room.

The group was listening to a South Korean composition sent to the University of Iowa from students at Chugye University for the Arts in Seoul.

Yunsoo Kim, a University of Iowa graduate student from South Korea, composed an international exchange of electronic music pieces this semester.

Kim, who studied at Chugye University of the Arts before attending the UI, orchestrated the exchange of electronic music. The UI swapped 60 minutes of music with 60 minutes worth of compositions from South Korea.

“We can watch another country’s currency and how it works,” Kim said about the music exchange.

Kim, 30, said the idea came to him as he watched other students perform at the UI and he noticed they were mostly from the Midwest. Kim suggested his idea to diversify these performances to a professor.

Kim was “the instigator and the executor of making this happen between us and Korea,” said Zach Zubow, a Ph.D. student in music theory and composition at the UI.

Zubow, who became interested in electronic music as an undergraduate, oversaw the 60 minutes of music UI students sent to Korea, and Kim translated the program notes.

The UI composers’ works will be performed at a concert next fall in Korea.

“Being a composer is all about networking, whom you know, and where you can get performances,” Zubow said, noting many involved with the exchange said they felt it was a great addition to their résumés.

The program in Becker consisted of 30 minutes of music from student composers at Chugye University for the Arts. The fixed media compositions included spatial sounds, with music coming through a ring of speakers set up all around the audience.

Rebecca Ashe, a freelance flautist who received a Ph.D. at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, performed with four of the nine electronic music pieces on the program Sunday.

Ashe said she collaborated closely with electronic musician Leslie Melcher, a well-established electronic composer from Toronto whose piece “Dark Matter” was on the program. Ashe, who called the synergy “indispensable,” recorded herself playing on a tape recorder and e-mailed sound clips back and forth with Melcher until they felt the piece was perfected.

“We got to know the piece as a unit, and it was something we both could create,” Ashe said, noting she was impressed with the UI’s close collaboration with Chugye.

“Each school gets its own personality,” Ashe said. “Having a different collective of people brought in broadens ideas of playing and of composition.”

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