photo by Rubén Vega Balbás @ruvebal

Seung-Won Oh – YeonDo *

* Commission by November Music Festival

Helena Rasker- Contralto/ Cappella Pratensis/ New European Ensemble/ Percussion quartet/ Manoj Kamps- conductor / Seung-Won Oh- Composition, concept & regie

YeonDo [연도], (Bosch Requiem 2020) is deeply inspired by yeondo.
Yeondo is a Korean catholic prayer for the souls in purgatory. It is a unique ritual amalgamated with traditional Korean funeral culture and Catholic beliefs. The Psalms and litany of the Saints are chanted in distinctive Korean rhythms and tones in antiphonal group singing.

YeonDo [연도] creates a musical and theatrical experience of a symbolic death ritual. Unlike the traditional set-up of the requiem mass, the soloist, choir, percussion quartet, and orchestra are initially independent. The percussion quartet adds another layer of plot symbolizing funeral procession. All the prayers, processions, and toll of bells culminate to the final tutti of Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) in Part III.

In YeonDo, a musically transcended symbolic ceremonial, it is my humble hope
that all the participants can reflect on death and commemorate the loved one who is no longer with us.

Interview with Thea Derks on YeonDo


14 November 2021 18:45

Jheronimus Bosch Art Center ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

18 November 2021 20:15: (19.15 Concert Pre-talk)

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam

November Music 2020 opent traditiegetrouw met Bosch Requiem waarin het gedachtegoed van Jheronimus Bosch en Allerzielen de basis vormen van een nieuwe compositie uitgevoerd in een verrassende totaalavond.

Het leven zelf is al raadselachtig genoeg, maar het mysterie van de dood roept nog veel meer vraagtekens op. Als de dood dan op de deur klopt wordt het stervensproces met allerlei mystieke rituelen omgeven. Van het Tibetaanse Dodenboek tot het katholieke sacrament van de zieken. De Koreaanse katholieke kerk houdt er weer een geheel eigen traditie op na: YeonDo. Voordat iemand wordt begraven, vindt er een begeesterd groepsgebed plaats voor de dode. De Koreaans-Nederlandse componiste Seung-Won Oh is gefascineerd door dit unieke dodenritueel dat Koreaanse begrafenistradities verbindt met het katholieke geloof in Korea. Tijdens het YeonDo-ritueel verblijft de dode bijvoorbeeld in het vagevuur totdat de zonden zijn vergeven en het hemelen kan beginnen. De geest wordt voorbereid op zijn tocht naar een nieuwe wereld, onder meer met een ceremoniale maaltijd. In haar requiem YeonDo geeft Seung-Won Oh een nieuwe, eigentijdse invulling aan deze aloude traditie.

De fraaie sacrale ruimte van het Jheronimus Bosch Art Center vormt het ideale decor voor dit nieuwe Bosch Requiem. De muziek van Seung-Won Oh heeft een grote fysieke uitstraling waarbij muzikale handeling en klankritueel in elkaar overvloeien. In haar dodenmis is een glanzende hoofdrol weggelegd voor New European Ensemble, de zangers van Cappella Pratensis en alt Helena Rasker die een zinderend en tijdloos ritueel ontketenen. De regie is wederom in handen van Matzer Theaterproducties. Dirigent is evenals vorig jaar Manoj Kamps.

The premiere of Vanapriya (2020), The Birds of Paradise for chamber orchestra by Insomnio Ensemble (NL).

Vanapriya is written for the Insomnio Ensemble’s bird program which includes Jonathan Harvey’s Bird Concerto with Pianosong and Finnish composer Jukka Tiensuu’s Appo. Oh expanded the inspiration from the Papua Newguine’s Birds of Paradise to the love of all creatures in the Forest.

After the premiere at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ Amsterdam (NL), Vanapriya will be presented at Korzo Theater (Den Haag), Tivoli-Vredenburg (Utrecht), De Link/Cenakel (Tilburg) and WoNDeRFeel festival (Hilversum). Please find the detailed information by clicking Performances/ Upcoming Performances at the top menu.


On 2 March, the Egyptian Contemporary Music Ensemble will be presenting the Egyptian premiere of Seung-Won Oh’s Black Crow. This concert’s programme will be devoted to the work of contemporary women composers.

Oh wrote Black Crow in 2011. This concerto for viola, bass clarinet and percussion is a response to White Eagle (2009), Martijn Padding’s violin concerto. “What spoke to me particularly was the sophisticated way Padding derives a continuous forward energy from Irish fiddle music,’ said Oh in an explanation. In Black Crow, Oh gives that vital drive a darker harmonic tint and an expressive gesture.

Also on the programme: music by Kaija Saariaho (Finland), Isabel Mundry (Germany), Tansey Davies (UK) and Yara Mikkawei (Egypt).

2 March, Ewart Memorial Hall, Cairo. The Egyptian Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by Peter Tilling

As one of the featured composers in the Tanglewood Music Center’s 2014 Festival of Contemporary Music, Oh’s 2008 work for percussion quartet, Canonic Phase, will be performed along with works by Jacob Druckman and John Harbison. One of Oh’s many works for percussion, this 11′ quartet explores the ideas between canons and timbral transformations while weaving inspiration from traditional Korean instruments with found objects into organically complex music. Using a meticulously chosen arsenal of percussion instruments decided by the players themselves, the resultant sound world is always a fresh and uniquely vibrant aspect to the work.

Thursday July 17, 8pm, Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA
Purchase Tickets Here.

For a special occasion of collaboration with Komungo artist Ik-Soo Heo and the DePaul University composition program, Oh made an adaptation of two excerpts from musical theater, Words and Beyond II: Hun NanSulHun, to form her piece ChoHee. Words and Beyond II: Hun NanSulHun is set to premiere in October 2014. In an effort to adapt ChoHee to a concert-oriented ensemble setting, the traditional Jungga singer (who typically sings using traditional Korean vocal techniques) has been replaced with a Mezzo soprano voice, and cello and double bass have been added in addition to the k?mungo, accordion, and three percussionists found in the original production.

April 25 2014 @ 8PM DePaul Concert Hall, Chicago

A young and fresh blend of extraordinary talents based in Chicago, Ensemble Mocrep is putting its own unique voice on display performing Fragments. Originally written for the New York-based ensemble, Flexible Music, the work was formed based on the instrumentation of Louis Andriessen?s work, Hout. Fragments offers generous room for interpretation, and thrives on the intimate and particular interactions of the performers that makes each performance of the score one-of-a-kind.

April 29, 2014 @ 8PM DePaul Concert Hall, Chicago

Originally written for Kathrina GrossPersistent Memory (2013), for solo cello, receives US premiere during the NMDP (New Music DePaul) Series 2014. With depth, acuity and in an original interpretation, Chris Wild unravels the delicate and sensitive sound world of Persistent Memory.

February 21 2014/ 8PM/ DePaul School of Music, Chicago

Photo by Nancy Horowitz

Persistent Memory (2013) written for Katharina Gross will be premiered at Isola del Garda in Italy in June 2013. After several workshops and reading sessions, the current version of Persistent Memory has reached its final barline. The falling gesture stated at the very beginning of the composition constantly returns in new episodes, deviating more and more with each return. The left-hand pizzicato, double-stops, microtonal approach and harmonics are gadgets used in the new work to provide catchy motives and a rich timbre.

Subsequent performances throughout the summer of 2013 include Den Haag, Netherlands and Hartberg, Austria.

Alone in the Dark (2001), a solo cello piece has been performed extensively throughout Europe during the summer of 2012. Katharina Gross brought about the piece’s revival with European premieres of the work taking place in Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Ms. Gross also will be collaborating with Oh on a new solo cello piece set to premiere throughout Europe in June of 2013.

20 July, 2012 at the Festival Classico del Ponente Ligure in Imperia, Italy
25 July, 2012 at Acschlossl in Graz, Austria
8 September, 2012 at the Concertello 2012 in Hartberg, Austria
4 October, 2012 at the Celloherbst am Hellweg at Kunstverein Schwerte, Germany