Faculty Profile

Katherine In-Young Lee
Assistant Professor of Music

Katherine In-Young Lee is an ethnomusicologist with research interests in East Asia, music and politics, transnational circulations, sound studies, and ethnography. She is intrigued by how analyses of sound can offer reappraisals of past events and contemporary cultural phenomena. In this vein, she has developed research projects that engage various types of “sonic evidence”—from the politicized drumming of dissent to the audible dimensions of a nation branding campaign. Her research on the role of music at scenes of protest during South Korea’s democratization movement was recognized with the Charles Seeger Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Martin Hatch Award by the Society for Asian Music. An article on this work was published in Ethnomusicology. Based on extensive multi-sited research conducted on South Korea’s samul nori percussion genre, she is completing an ethnography that considers how a musical genre goes global. Her next project centers on the Korean Orphan Choir, a vocal ensemble tied to the founder of the World Vision charity organization, Robert Pierce.

Professor Lee has received fellowships and grants from the Blakemore Freeman Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, Fulbright IIE, the Korea Institute at Harvard University, the Association for Asian Studies, and the Social Science Research Council. In 2011 she was one of two Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellows at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard and a visiting fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In spring 2015, she was awarded a Faculty Research Fellowship from the UC Davis Humanities Institute.

Additionally, Professor Lee has previously worked in arts administration. In 2003 she served as the Overseas Coordinator for Kim Duk Soo’s SamulNori Hanullim percussion ensemble in Seoul. Since joining the faculty in 2012, she has coordinated the Valente Lecture Series and she has helped to host numerous international musicians at UC Davis. 

Overview

Korean Percussion Ensemble
Katherine In-Young Lee, director

Katherine In-Young Lee and the Korean Percussion Ensemble on its first-ever concert in the Mondavi Center lobby on May 30, 2013.

The Korean Percussion Ensemble explores the genres of samulnori and p’ungmul. Korean samulnori features the dynamic interplay of four percussion instruments known as changgo (hourglass drum), puk (barrel drum) ching (large gong), and kkwaenggwari (small gong). Samulnori draws its roots and rhythms from a much older musical tradition known as p’ungmul, which was associated with village rituals and agrarian life in Korea for many centuries. Much like Japanese taiko, Korean samulnori is now performed all around the world by professional and amateur ensembles.

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