Hendrikje Lange – Samulnori, Korean drums expert

Hi Hendrikje Lange, it is really a great honor to meet such a great artist today, thank you very much. Your name is Dutch; you actually come from Bern, but your heart is Korean?! How did Samulnori, traditional Korean drums, and Korea come into your life?

My first encounter with Korean drumming was 1994 in Switzerland. In 1996, I heard a concert of Kim Duk Soo Samulnori Hanullim (김덕수사물놀니한울림) in Basel and that was the moment when I completely fell in love with samulnori drumming. Back then I knew nothing about Korea, but the power of the music opened my heart and mind and I decided that I wanted to learn to play it myself.

So, how did you pursue your dream to learn Samulnori while being in Switzerland?

My first Janggo teacher was Suzanne Nketia, a Swiss drummer and dancer. In 2001 I became a member of her Swiss women Samulnori team „Swissamul“ and we were invited to participate several times in the World Samulnori Competition in Korea, under leadership of Kim DukSoo. In 2008, we won first prize in the ‘overseas’ section of the competition.

In parallel, starting in 1997 until 2010, I participated in the annual intensive Workshops at the Basel Music Academy, lead by Prof. Kim Dong Won (김동원) from Korea. At that time he was the personal assistant of Kim Duk Soo and he was responsible for research and developing score notation for the classical samulnori repertory. Nowadays he is a Professor at Wongkwang Digital University (원광디지털대학교) and is performing as a member of the Silk Road Project with famous cellist YoYo Ma. Mr. Kim Dong Won became one of the most influential teachers to me.

When did you go to Korea for the first time?

It was in 1999 to take samulnori lessons. From that moment on I kept visiting Korea every year and I fell more and more in love with the beauty and diversity of Korean traditional culture and lifestyle.

You even settled in Korea, right?

Yes, from 2010 to 2016 I lived in Korea.
In 2011 I got a 6month schoolarship to study at Gugnip Gugakwon (국립국악원) in Seoul, the National Center for Traditional Performing Arts.
I followed the recommendation of master drummer Kim Duk Soo, and I entered the MA course of korean traditional performing arts (현희과) at Karts in Seoul (한국 예술종합학교) as the first western student in that department. I studied at Karts from 2012-2014 and completed my studies with a solo recital program, „Following the Bird“

We know that you made a lot of TV appearances in Korea?

Yes, during my time in Korea, I appeared in several TV shows of KBS, MBC, Arirang…

You even became a teacher?

Yes, I also worked as a Janggu instructor at the National Gugak Center, the state center for Korean traditional music. I was responsible for teaching the Janggo classes for foreigners.

Wow so impressive, first western student, instructor and National Gugak Center, Hendrikje Lange you are a real true pioneer! This is so inspirational! Tell us, do you have your own Samulnori band?

Actually, in 2013 I founded the Expats Samulnori Team, an amateur’s team of expats living in Korea. With this team we performed at several festivals and performed for KBS TV Gugak Hanmadang.
We won first prize at the World Samulnori Competition in Chilgok in 2014.

In 2015 I founded 하눌바람 Hanul Baram, a professional samulnori team. With Hanul Baram we performed shaman ritual music together with the late dancer Céline Baque. Our piece „Spirits Alive“ won the first prize in the overseas section at the World Samulnori Festival and Competition in Chilgok.

Finally I came back in Switzerland in 2016 and have continued Salmulnori activities since, having great joy performing with the Korean Team Daehansaram 대한사람in 2018. Since 2019 I’m teaching Pungmul, Korean folk music, and Samulnori for the tr’ensemble training in Basel. In February 2023 with Hanul Baram new team we had the honor to perform at the welcome reception for the Korean president Yoon 윤석열 In Zürich.

Wow, again this is truly amazing! Hendrikje Lange, you will be present at our next annual event 2023 Hallyu Com-on in Swiss for the 5th KPOP and Korean Culture Days in Lausanne. We would like to thank you so much to give our young (and less young) audience the opportunity to meet you, listen to your music, and learn from you. Thank you very much!

Thank you too Hallyu Korea team to welcome us in Lausanne, we can’t wait to meet you all! 😊