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Hwayoung Shon


Born in South Korea and currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hwayoung Shon is a master of the gayageum, a Korean traditional string instrument, and a composer actively exploring the link between music. She blends Korean instruments with other cultures through her impeccable technique and in-depth musical interpretation.


Since her public debut at age 10 with the Korea Broadcasting System in 1986, Shon has been passionately incorporating Korean music into various cultures and musical genres. Her extensive experience working with jazz musicians, K-pop stars, world musicians, and classical orchestras has given her a unique perspective on how to blend traditional Korean music with contemporary styles.


Shon graduated with the distinction in performance and received a full government scholarship from the National Gugak High School and Seoul National University. She has also been the top winner of numerous prominent Korean music contest, including Goryung National Gayageum Competition, Dalgubeol National Gugak Competition, National Student Gugak Competition, Daegu National Gugak Competition, and more. The late Seong-Chun Lee, the director of the National Gugak Center, praised her as a once-in-a-genetation talent. 


Shon introduced the gayageum through lecture concerts, workshops, visitor research, and festivals and has been active as a soloist and collaborator in the United States, Asia, and Europe. She has been invited as a soloist and shared a stage with Grammy awardee violist and musical actor at the Korean National Day Commemorate Concert at the Herbst Theatre. As a guest artist, lecturer, and visitor researcher, she has worked with UC Santa Cruz, Stanford University, Seoul National University, Neue Music Korea, France World Music Festival, Marin Symphony, KAMSA Youth Orchestra, Korean Consulate in SF, Musica Medicina in India, Cities and Memory in the UK, the Helmholtz Institute in Germany for Polar sounds project. Her performances were broadcasted on KBS Radio, KBS TV, MBC TV, EBS TV, BBC, WGVU-FM, Wave Farm, and more. 


Shon recently released a solo live album featuring 19th-century traditional gayageum music and an improvisational duet album with an acoustic piano. Inspired by the 15th-century Joseon Dynasty’s rite music and collaborations with UK and German institutes, her compositional work has been selected for and released in the United Kingdom.


Hwayoung Shon is a masterful musician dedicated to exploring Korea’s rich cultural heritage and sharing it with audiences worldwide.

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