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Artists Dong-Won Kim

Dong-Won Kim is a Korean percussionist, pedagogue, vocalist, composer, and improviser. Since 1984, he has studied various forms of traditional music, ranging from farmers’ drumming and dance, shaman music, and Pansori accompaniment, as well as music theory from the great Korean music masters. Recognized internationally as a master of his form, he has performed all over the world including at the United Nations General Assembly Hall as a regular member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble Project. While Dong-Won plays a range of percussive instruments, his primary instrument is the jang-go: an hourglass-shaped drum with two leather heads that are struck with mallets. One side of the drum has a higher pitch than the other. The instrument is used in samul nori traditional folk music, which was popularized by Korean farmers. Samul nori music typically features four different percussion instruments, each of which represents a force in nature. The jang-go symbolizes water or rain.

Dong-Won is celebrated for his participation in a range of intercultural projects. In 2013 he dazzled Guelph Jazz Festival (2013) audiences with his receptive and energetic playing in various contexts, particularly as part of the World Percussion Summit that opened the festival. Dong-Won is also known for his pedagogy, having taught at various institutions including Harvard University and the Musik Akademie Basel, Switzerland. He currently teaches music as a professor of Wonkwang Digital University. In addition, he has written several fairy tales for children and was featured in a music documentary film, Intangible Asset Number 82 (2009; directed by Emma Franz). In September 2014, Dong-Won was the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation’s Improviser-in-Residence, which culminated in a remarkable live performance and recording called When Rivers Meet, featuring the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, the Guelph Youth Jazz ensemble, and prominent members of Guelph’s improvising community.

Dong-Won has a long and rich history of working in Canada, his most recent project being with the Guelph improvising band the Vertical Squirrels, entitled Le gouffre ( The Chasm ) based on the writings of Korean seon (Zen) master and poet Gyeongheo.

Dong-Won Kim

Republic of Korea

Residence: Guelph (Ontario, Canada)

  • Composer
  • Performer (voice, percussion)
  • Improviser

On the web

Main releases

Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 260, AM 260_NUM / 2021