Culture

Family of National Musical Instrumentalists

All the family members of Ju Hye Ryon, lecturer at Pyongyang Kim Won Gyun University of Music, are players of national musical instruments.

Ju herself plays haegum (Korean fiddle) and her daughters are players of yanggum (Korean zither) and taehaegum (large-sized haegum) respectively. Her late husband Hwang Jin Chol was the player of treble jottae or treble flautist.

Hwang and Ju learned to play Western musical instruments in their childhood and switched to national musical instruments in the conservatory.

Instrumentalists scarcely quit playing the instruments they have practised since childhood to take up other instruments, as instrument playing requires constant practice as well as natural talents and aptitude.

“My husband and I changed our majors with no regret, out of the desire to exalt our national tune and flavour that no instruments of other countries can imitate,” said Ju.

Their decision produced good results.

Hwang already excelled in playing during his conservatory days, thereby taking part in the creation of revolutionary operas Song of Mt Kumgang and Tell O Forest.

After graduation Hwang and Ju became lecturers and got married, attracted by each other’s love for national musical instruments.

For decades since then, they wrote many schools and etudes and trained bright specialists.

Particularly, Hwang contrived an auxiliary device producing birdsong to enrich the pitch range of the treble flute, thereby making it possible to satisfactorily express the ideas and emotions of people in combination with the cheerful and beautiful birdsong.

The couple brought up their children to be skilled national musical instrumentalists.

Their elder daughter Hwang Ryon A has a forte to play yanggum while changing sticks.

She realized the yanggum solo using three to four sticks for the first time. As a result yanggum which could make only monotonous tunes and rhythms developed into an instrument supporting melodies harmonically.

She played yanggum solo in two artistic performances held in the presence of Chairman Kim Jong Il in August 2010 and June 2011. On those occasions the Chairman highly appreciated her play and praised her family for specializing in national musical instruments.

Under the influence of the family tradition, younger daughter Hwang Na Yon switched to taehaegum, though she had been spoken of by experts as a promising violinist from her childhood, and took first place in a February 16 Art Prize individual contest during her conservatory day.

At present she plays at the Mansudae Art Troupe and her elder sister at the National Folk Art Troupe.

“We always keep in our mind our parents’ teaching ‘The sentiments of your nation can be expressed vividly only by dint of the musical instruments of your country’,” said Hwang Ryon A.

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