Program Notes: Jiji, guitar

Jiji is an award-winning guitarist from South Korea. Her repertoire includes classical sonatas and electronically tinged soundscapes from her own works as a performer and DJ.

Jiji, guitar

Faces of Modernity


ISAAC ALBÉNIZAsturias (Leyenda)
LEO BROUWER (b. 1939)Paisaje con Cubano Campanas (1986)
BENJAMIN VERDERY (b. 1955)Tread Lightly
PAUL LANSKY (b. 1944)Gigue for Solo Guitar
(from Partita for Guitar and Percussion)
GULLI BJÖRNSSONDimmar Öldur Rísa (Dim waves rise)
(b. 1991)for Electric Guitar and electronics
1. mig langar Landsýn í
2. Dökkt er á Djúpi
**Written for Jiji
D. SCARLATTI (1685-1757)Sonata D minor (for keyboard), K.10
MARIN MARAIS (1656–1728)Le Voix Humaines (for viola da gamba)
J.S. BACH (1685-1750)Allegro, from Prelude, Fugue & Allegro, BWV 998
STEVE REICHElectric Counterpoint (1987)
(b. 1936)Fast
ALBERTO GINASTERA Sonata for Guitar, Op. 47 (1976)

Program subject to change

Jiji is First Prize Winner of the 2016 CAG Victor Elmaleh International Competition and appears by special arrangement with Concert Artists Guild.


Dimmar Öldur Rísa (Dim waves rise) for guitar and electronics
(b. 1991)

Guitarist and composer Gulli Bjornsson began his music studies at age 10 at Kopavogur Music School in Iceland. In 2010 Gulli moved from Iceland to New York to study guitar with David Leisner at Manhattan School of Music and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Guitar Performance with Benjamin Verdery at Yale School of Music.

Although primarily educated as a classical guitarist, Gulli composes all sorts of music. He got into film scoring as an undergraduate at Manhattan School of Music and his music draws inspiration from both film and guitar music. Recent compositional exploits include scoring the documentary Elegy for the Time Being by Tram Luong and releasing a full length Techno album, simply called Techno 1, sponsored through an art program in Reykjavík Iceland.

As a performer Gulli has performed a huge variety of guitar music in venues ranging from Merkin Concert Hall in New York to his local swimming pool in Iceland. Gulli has been a finalist in international guitar competitions around the world and been fortunate enough to receive a multitude of grants and scholarships to help him in his studies. He has also premiered and recorded new works for guitar by Angelo Gilardino, Peter Andreacchi and Halldór Smárason. Lately he has been researching the possibilities of performing classical guitar with laptops, and he is also a member of the new music guitar duo LINÜ with Jiji. 

The Composer writes…

Dimmar Öldur Rísa tells the story of capsizing and falling into the ocean, bouncing around in the waves as it gets dark, until the ocean waves consume you. Stories of refugees fleeing Syria in boats over the Mediterranean were a source of inspiration as well as this verse from an Icelandic poem, written by Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845) in 1832:

Hví viltu, andsvala
Hví viltu meinaWhy would you refuse
manni sjóleiðum a man at sea
hæðir Herthu líta?to behold Hertha’s hills?
dökkt er á djúpi,The depths are dark
dimmar öldur rísa,dim waves rise
mig langar landsýn í.I want to see land.

The piece starts off with repeated chords changing mostly one note at a time around a pedal G while changing meters and accents. My idea was to try to imitate the way light refracts and sort of sparkles when it hits water.  The 2nd movement starts off with a repetitive motive based on the lowest 3 strings of the guitar. Originally composed on the piano (with the pedal down) it features a lot of open strings to retain the same atmosphere.

About the electronic playback…The first movement has recorded ocean sounds and breathing along with one drone from Omnisphere 2. The 2nd movement is almost entirely composed out of a single wave sample that I carefully manipulated into club like groove inspired by the sound world of the genius electronic musician Arca.

About Jiji, guitar

First Prize, 2016 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition

Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “…talented, sensitive…brilliant,” Jiji is an adventurous artist on both acoustic and electric guitar, playing an extensive range of music from traditional and contemporary classical music to free improvisation.  Her impeccable musicianship combined with compelling stage presence and fascinating repertoire earned the Korean guitarist First Prize at the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition.

Following recent performances at the 92nd Street ‘Y’ Guitar Fest and at Festival Napa Valley, Jiji has a busy 2017-18 season, featuring her New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall on the CAG series, along with recitals for the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Illinois, Purdue Convocations in Indiana, and the Virginia Arts Festival (co-presented by the Tidewater Classical Guitar Society).

The Kansas City Star described Jiji as “A graceful and nuanced player,” adding that “…she presented an intimate, captivating performance” in its review of her recent appearance as guest soloist with Kansas City Symphony and conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto.  Upcoming concerto appearances include the Great Falls Symphony (MT), Roswell Symphony (NM), and the Southwest Michigan Symphony.

Currently sponsored by D’Addario Strings. Jiji’s performances have been featured on PBS (On Stage at Curtis series), NPR’s From the Top, WHYY-TV, FOX 4-TV, Munchies (the Vice Channel), The Not So Late Show (Channel 6, Kansas), and Hong Kong broadcast station RTHK’s The Works.

A passionate advocate of new music, Jiji has premiered a duo piece Talking Guitars by renowned composer, Paul Lansky, and her subsequent studio recording of that work (with young Chinese guitarist Hao Yang) will be released on Bridge Records in the 2017-18 season.  As a recipient of the 2017 BMI commissioning award resulting from the CAG Competition.  Jiji has commissioned Nina C. Young to write a new guitar piece scheduled for premiere in early 2018.  She has premiered works by numerous emerging composers, including Gabriella Smith, Riho Maimets, Krists Auznieks, Gulli Björnsson, Andrew McIntosh, and Farnood HaghaniPour.  She also performs her own compositions, incorporating electronic media and acoustic music, and she currently works as a composer with the Yale Repertory Theater, Yale Cabaret, and Yale school of Art.  Her music is influenced by her regular activities as a DJ, where she highlights the electronic dance styles of happy hardcore and Berlin experimental electronica.

Recent performance highlights include a wide array of venues, including: Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, Miller Theater, Mass MOCA, Subculture NYC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Her recent tour in Hong Kong consisted of performances collaborating with a performance Artist, a traditional Chinese instrument ensemble, and an Erhu player in art galleries, clubs, and even on a moving trolley.

As a chamber musician, she performed with members of Eighth Blackbird, members of one beat project, members of Bang on a Can All-Stars, Tanglewood Chamber orchestra, Wild Up, The Industry, cellist Tessa Seymour, and the Aizuri Quartet.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jiji (Jiyeon Kim) began playing classical guitar at the age of nine, and was accepted to the Korea National University of Arts at age fourteen.  She attended the Cleveland Institute of Music for two years, where she studied with Jason Vieaux, and was accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011 as one of the first two guitarists in Curtis’ distinguished history. She graduated Curtis in 2015, as a student of Mr. Vieaux and David Starobin, and she recently earned her Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, studying with Benjamin Verdery.  Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, she enjoys cooking in her spare time and creating weird sounds on Ableton.