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If Volcanoes Could Sing - The Art of Pansori

If Volcanoes could sing, then they would sound like Bae Il-Dong. -John Shand, ABC Jazz

Get ready for something very special.

The Open Ears Festival and the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Music will present Korean Pansori singer Bae Il-Dong and master drummer Kim Dong-Won in “IF VOLCANOES COULD SING”, a film screening and live performance on November 12, 2014, 7 PM, at Princess Cinema, 6 Princess St W, WATERLOO. We will also be collaborating with our friends at the Music Gallery in Toronto, where we will bring this program on November 9, 2014 at 7 PM.

Bae Il-Dong spent 7 years alone in the mountains of Korea, sleeping in a hut, and singing every morning into a roaring waterfall for up to 18 hours a day. This traditional training regimen develops the fearsome vocal strength that defines Pansori, the highly evolved Korean art of musical storytelling. Kim Dong-Won is a master drummer and vocalist, who in 1987 was incarcerated as a political prisoner for defiantly making music, and who now plays regularly with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a member of his internationally acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble. They will present a live performance of “Song of Sim Cheong”, accompanied by English surtitles.

Both Kim and Bae were featured artists in Intangible Asset No. 82, a fascinating documentary about a jazz drummer’s search for an elusive Korean Pansori singer. Emma Franz’s 2009 film debuted at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival in Brazil, where it was a finalist in the Audience Vote for Best Documentary. The film went on to win BEST DOCUMENTARY at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa, BEST SOUND IN DOCUMENTARY at the 2009 AFI Awards Australia, and was voted runner-up for Most Popular Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It has screened in competition at some of the most respected film and documentary festivals, including AFI SilverDocs and South By South West in the U.S.A., Hot Docs in Canada, and others in places as diverse as Argentina, Japan, Chile, China, Korea, India, Egypt and Israel. It was shortlisted for the Cinema Eye Honors in the U.S.A.

The evening will begin with a special screening of Intangible Asset No. 82 at 7:00 PM (free) and will be followed by the live Pansori performance at 8:30 PM (ticket required). This event was made possible with the assistance of the Musagetes Foundation.

Tickets for the Waterloo performance on November 12 ($30/20, $10 student rush with valid ID) and further information are available at or by clicking here. For more information, go to, or contact us via email or phone (519) 579-8564.

Coming from Guelph? A free shuttle will be leaving from Musagetes (6 Dublin St. South). The bus will board at 6pm and return at 10pm, following the concert. Please note that seats are first come, first serve, and we highly recommend you purchase your tickets in advance!

Tickets for the Toronto performance are available through the Music Gallery or online here.

...the innovative working models of improvisation developed by creative practitioners have helped to promote a dynamic exchange of cultural forms, and to encourage new, socially responsive forms of community building across national, cultural, and artistic boundaries.

– Ajay Heble