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Hwayoung Shon


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


Since her public debut at age 10 with 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 of performance and received a full government scholarship from the National Gugak High School and Seoul National University. She is also numerous prominent Korean music contest grand prize winners, such as Goryung National Gayageum Competition, Dalgubeol National Gugak Competition, National Student Gugak Competition, Daegu National Student Gugak Competition and more. The late Seong-Chun Lee, the director of the National Gugak Center, praised her as a performer who would only appear once every few decades. 


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 had been working 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 UK, the Helmholtz Institute in Germany for Polar sounds project. Her performance were broadcasted on KBS Radio, KBS TV, MBC TV, EBS TV, BBC, WGVU-FM. Wave Farm, etc. 


Shon recently released a solo live album of 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 collaboration between the UK and German institutes, her compositional work has been selected 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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