Nolja!, which means "Let's play!" in Korean, is a concert series organized by composer, improviser, and performer Leo Chang. This exuberant call to enjoy oneself in the company of others is the spirit by which Leo seeks to facilitate space for his and his collaborators’ creative practices. Each performance of Nolja! will feature Leo as a performer within one of his collaborative projects. Leo performs as VOCALNORI, which amplifies Leo’s voice through the bodies of Korean gongs and other metallic objects, and plays the piri (Korean double reed instrument) using untraditional techniques and electronically processed improvisations. Leo’s performances are an embodiment of how he approaches his Korean identity. Too often, uncritical appreciation of multiculturalism reduces “Koreanness” to an aesthetic that can somehow be infused into different cultural settings. Leo aims to impede such judgements on Koreanness by using Korean bodies (gongs, the piri, his own voice) in ways that are noisy, spontaneous, and free—wholly disinterested in identifying or expressing any rigid notion of Koreanness. As such, Nolja! will present group performances that feature Leo and his instruments in a variety of contexts.
Image by Kisha Bwenge