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Sharing Asian drumming traditions with Japanese Taiko, the Korean percussion and dance ensemble SamulNori will bring powerful music, elegant movements, and festive ritual to Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 19. Tickets for the concert are $15 and may be ordered by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

Earlier in the day, at 11 a.m., Lafayette students and the public are invited to attend a free one-hour introduction to Korean music and cultural ceremony conducted by SamulNori with the assistance of J. Larry Stockton, professor and head of the music department and chair of Lafayette’s East Asian Studies program, in the Williams Center. The workshop will include live music and spoken commentary.

Led by Kim Duk Soo, the four-member troupe displays virtuosity in razor-sharp ensemble drumming on gongs, chimes, and Korean hour-glass drums. But equally stunning are the group’s graceful dance movements, which add a courtly sense of ceremony to the musicians’ thunderous drumming effects. The unusual combination of ecstatic, muscular drumming and elegant, brightly costumed choreography from the centuries-old performance traditions of Korea communicates an indelible impression for the eye as well as the ear.

SamulNori’s frequent United States tours have included engagements at the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, New York’s Asia Society, and Lincoln Center. The recent Los Angeles performance prompted Los Angeles Times critic Don Heckman to write, “The energy level of the music was astonishing, teeming with a flow of rhythm that pulsed and breathed with life [the finale] was a fitting climax to an evening of spirited, life-affirming music and dance.” The New York Times joins other major publications in its effusive praise: “The four musiciansare all virtuoso percussioniststheir drumming -modulated into sounds of any nuance – could lead to total astonishmentHighly praised by musicians after its 1983 debut, SamulNori is a complete theatrical experience as well.”

Founded in Seoul in 1978, SamulNori has become the leading institution of traditional Korean performance, expanding in 1993 to include 30 students selected and trained by Kim. In 1985, the Asia Society won an “Obie” for Outstanding Achievement in the Off-Broadway Theatre for introducing the group to New York’s stages. Internationally, SamulNori has toured Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, China, Australia, and Greece, where it accompanied the Korean Olympic representatives for the lighting of the Olympic torch in 1988.

In addition to a touring schedule that includes numerous festivals and collaborations with jazz and pop musicians, the group teaches performance techniques at the SamulNori Academy of Music in Seoul. SamulNori also has released 15 recordings and been the subject of several books and videos.

The 1999-2000 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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