Korean guitarist performs at Hamline

The Minnesota Guitar Society hosts professional guitarist Bokyung Byun as part of the 2019-2020 concert season.

Nicole Ronchetti, Reporter

Despite the chill in the outside air, Sundin Music Hall was filled to the brim for the performance of Bokyung Byun, a rising star in the world of classical guitar.


Performing Nov. 16 as a part of the 2019-2020 concert season held by the Minnesota Guitar Society, Byun captivated the audience with her skillful and beautiful performance.


Born in Seoul, South Korea, Byun began playing guitar at the age of six and quickly found a strong love for music.


“I started guitar when I was very young. My parents weren’t musicians, but they tried to take me to as many music concerts as they could,” Byun said.


Her passion for music fueled her future success. As a teenager, she toured across South Korea, and at 16 she was accepted into The Juilliard School of drama, dance and music in New York City.


Her performance at Hamline was a varied collection of traditional and contemporary pieces, a mixture she is a strong advocate for.


“It’s vital and exciting to audiences for concerts to join the new with the old. For guitar music to continue to grow, I believe new works must actively be cultivated in programming,” Byun said.


Taking moments to talk with the audience between songs, Byun shared the history of the composers and songs she was performing, along with the occasional funny anecdote that related to it.


The combination of beautiful music and commentary kept the evening engaging and entertaining, all well including educational value.


The Minnesota Guitar Society is invested in promoting guitar both through education and through its value as an art form.


As a part of their mission statement, they express their goal to “serve as an educational and social link between the community and amateur and professional guitarists of all ages.”


Through their work, including the concert series Byun performed in, they hope to increase accessibility to guitar music and make it available to a larger audience.


“One of the challenges is building the next generation of audience members,” Paul Hintz, the Managing Director, said in a newsletter. “Another, for our Society, is nurturing future players and lovers of guitar.”


The first issue they are addressing by making concerts more financially accessible, with student admission for any of their Sundin concerts only $10.


To address the second challenge, the Minnesota Guitar Society has launched a program that partners with schools throughout the Twin Cities to promote music and guitar programs.


The program, called Guitar In Our Schools, helps schools by creating and improving guitar classes in addition to bringing in professional guitarists to perform for the students.


Now in its second year, Guitar In Our Schools has partnered with Southwest High School and Roosevelt High School and is hoping to increase its community outreach.


As well as providing education, the program also encourages first-time concert attendees by providing discounted tickets to students and their families at partnering schools.


Following Byun’s performance, the Minnesota Guitar Society’s concert season will continue, with six more performances scheduled through May.


The next concert will be held on Dec. 7 in Sundin Music Hall and will feature Slovenian guitarist Mak Grgić.