Ahn Sook-Sun

LONDON Southbank Centre / Purcell Room
Belvedere Road


A rare opportunity to see Korea’s traditional opera sung by the legendary pansori singer Ahn Sook-Sun

‘If you listen to the finest work of pansori, you can feel your heart stop beating. Pansori isn’t just about singing – the word “sori” means “sound” in Korean. If you listen to pansori closely, even though the audience may not understand the language, they can feel the emotion of the pansori singer expressed through sound and human breath’ (Ahn Sook-Sun)

‘In pansori, the intimacy, the translation, the audience and the ambience are just as important as the music. When all that comes together, pansori really is one of the world’s great musical art forms.’
(Simon Broughton/Songlines)

Ahn Sook-Sun has sung the complete canon of five pansori pieces in their entirety. She has been performing and winning awards internationally for decades, and she was the pansori composer on the Korean production of Trojan Women that played two sold-out nights at the Southbank Centre in June as part of LIFT – The Guardian described it as ‘the Greek tragedy that became a Queer Korean opera’. In K-Music 2018, she will be performing the pansori Heungbo-ga. She will be joined for this performance by Jun-Su Kim – he played the role of Helen in Trojan Women.

There are five surviving stories within Korea’s pansori tradition and Heungbo-ga is the most humorous and immediately enjoyable, depicting the lives of ordinary people and their trials and tribulations.

Greedy, rich Nolbo has inherited his parents’ house and land and banished his poor but good-hearted brother Heungbo, leaving the brother with nothing but a large family to support. One day, Heungbo finds a swallow with a broken leg. He cares for the bird, who repays this kindness by bringing Heungbo a gourd seed to plant. When the seed bears fruit, it is full of treasure. Upon hearing of this, the unscrupulous Nolbo is overcome with jealousy and breaks the swallow's leg, hoping for his own reward. Nolbo receives a gourd seed too, but finds that it is full of goblins…

This performance will be surtitled in English
The performance will begin at 6pm and will run about three hours including one interval. Latecomers may not be admitted until the interval

She commands the stage, makes people listen to her. It feels like a conversation at a dinner table

(United K Pop)

Queen Elizabeth Foyer, 4.30pm, FREE

Joe Boyd is a record producer and writer. He worked with Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, REM, John Martyn, Olivia Chaney, and a host more of the world’s expressive and passionate artists. His enthusiasm for Bulgarian singing is well-known, but now K-Music 2018 is pleased to out him as a secret pansori lover. He says ‘Pansori is as rich and earthy as flamenco or blues, with lyrics that are as poetic as either of those forms’, and before Ahn Sook-Sun’s performance, he will be talking about why pansori is such an enthralling artform.
Admission is free and there’s no advance booking – just come along.