Arirang Together (2022) · 3.5 min

for soprano voice and piano

vocal and piano

Commissioned by Yoo Sun Na and the Korean Cultural Society of Boston

Program Note

Arirang Together was written for soprano Yoo Sun Na, and completed in August 2022. When I was first approached by Yoo Sun, I was very glad to take on this project. Ever since my first encounter with Korean music and culture in 2006, upon meeting piri and saenghwang virtuoso Gamin Kang as part of a UNESCO-based conference and performance, I’ve been increasingly fascinated with the music of Korea. This fascination led me to participate in the International Gugak Workshop in Seoul (Summer 2018), where I first learned about the Korean folk song Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo. This Gugak Workshop is an all expenses paid, two-week intensive program on Korean traditional music, instruments lessons, concerts, as well as a composition workshop. In 2018, I also participated in the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) in Daegu, where my work Kamelle-On for saenghwang and electronics was premiered by Gamin. Since that time my interest and connection with the music of Korea and several Korean musicians has expanded, and I have become more active working with the Korean Cultural Society of Boston.

For our work Arirang Together, Yoo Sun was seeking a new setting influenced by or referencing one of the more familiar versions of Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo as a refrain, in the context of her original song lyrics. Since I have very little experience with Korean language, in order to gain a familiarity with the Yoo Sun’s text, she provided me with a series of files, including recordings of her speaking her original Arirang Together text at various speeds. This was a huge help, and enabled me to study the declamation of the text – I used her recorded readings as the basis for a rhythmic transcription of her spoken language. Then, once I had a general sense of the spoken word accentuation, pauses, and general shape, as well as the phrasing of individual sentences, I turned towards the Romanized version of the Korean text and a translation that Yoo Sun also provided me. This, in addition to several conversations, enabled me to get a sense of style and mood that Yoo Sun was looking for.  At this point, I was ready to begin composing, which started with a series of keyboard improvisations, followed by several iterations (employing feedback from Yoo Sun). The music of Arirang Together references my affinity for major/minor and “post-minimalist” sonorities, often modal, something I’ve loved since studying with one of my early teachers and mentors, William Duckworth; and perhaps also reveals my experience with 12-beat patterns found in several types of Korean traditional folk music. Lastly, although Arirang Together is more tonal than the majority of my creative output, it does offer some similarities to my other recent work for voice and piano.

Arirang Together was performed as part of a concert program in celebration of Korean Art Songs and in commemoration of the 140th anniversary of of Korea-U.S diplomatic ties; featuring Yoo Sun Na, (soprano) and Ji Yung Lee (piano) at the Granoff Music Center, Tufts University, October 2, 2022.

It was also featured at the Welcome Concert and Reception of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Fulbright Association, Tsai Center, Boston University, November 14, 2022, featuring Yoo Sun Na (soprano) and Minkyung Oh (piano).


동방의 아침에서부터, 서방의 해 질 녘까지

꽃 피는 봄에서부터, 설목이 가득한 겨울까지

온누리에 외쳐라.


Dong-bang-euh Ah-chim-ae-seo-bu-teo, Seo-bang-euh Hae-gil-nyck-kka-ji

Kkot Pi-neun Bom-ae-seo-bu-teo, Seol-mok-I Ga-deuk-han Geo-ul-kka-ji

On-nu-ri-ae Oe-Cheo-La


From sunrise in the east to sunset in the west,

From flower blossoming in the spring to the winter full of evergreen trees,

Shout out to the world.


소나무의 속삭임이, 대지의 숨소리에 울려 퍼질 때

잔물결의 울림이, 만경창파에 나아가서

하나 되는 꿈을 이루리라.


So-na-muh-euh Sok-sak-im-ih, Dae-ji-euh Sum-so-ri-ae Ul-rhy-pu-jil-ttae

Jan-mul-keol-euh Ul-lim-I, Man-geong-chang-pa-ae Na-ah-gah-suh

Ha-na Doe-neun Kkom-eul Ih-ru-li-la


When the whisper of the pine tree resonates within the breath of the Earth,

The sound of the ripples flows to the boundless blue ocean,

We will become one as we have been dreaming.


거친 바람 속에도, 고이 자란 너와 나

뜨거운 눈물이, 우리의 뺨에 흐를 때

서로에게 믿음이 되어주자.


Gu-chin Ba-ram-sok-ae-do, Go-ih Ja-ran Neo-wa Na

Tteou-guh-un Nul-mul-ih, Uh-rhi-euh Bbam-eh Heu-reul Ttae

Seo-roh-eh-gye Mit-eum-ih Doe-uh-ju-ja


You and I growing up undeterred by the rough wind

When hot tears flow down our cheeks

Let us become hopes for each other


사뿐히 내려앉은 씨앗 하나가, 너와 나의 울타리 숲이 될 때

내 안의 고요함과 행복이, 즐거움과 사랑으로

새 하늘에 퍼져라.


Sa-ppun-hie Nae-rhyu-an-eun Sshi-aht Ha-na-ga, Neo-wa Na-euh Ul-ta-li Sup-ih Doel Ttae

Nae Ahn-eu Go-yo-ham-gwa Haeng-bok-ih, Jeul-geo-um-gwa Sa-rang-eu-ro

Sae Ha-nuel-eh Puh-geo-la


One single seed sits down lightly, becomes your and my fenced forest

The serenity and happiness in me becomes the joy and love

Spreading into the new sky.


우리의 꿈, 우리의 웃음, 우리의 소망이

온 세계로 나아가자.


Uh-lhy-euh Kkum, Uh-lhy-euh Ut-eum, Uh-lhy-euh So-mang-ih

On Sae-gye-lo Na-ah-ga-ja.


Our dream, out laughter, our hope

Spread out to the world


이 날 초연된 <함께 아리랑>은 이번 음악회를 위해 나유선 씨가 직접 가사를 쓰고 앤서니 폴 드 리티스 (Anthony Paul De Ritis) 교수가 작곡했다. 평화와 사랑으로, 민족의 하나됨을 소망하는 한국어 가사 세팅도 훌륭했고 소프라노가 역량을 충분히 발휘할 수 있었던 멋진 곡과 무대였다.


Arirang Together … [lyrics] written by Yoo Sun Na and composed by Professor Anthony Paul De Ritis for this concert. A setting of Korean lyrics that wished for the unity of the nation through peace and love was excellent, a wonderful song and stage where the soprano could fully demonstrate her abilities.”

The Boston Korea (October 6, 2002) [review]

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Arirang Together, by Anthony Paul De Ritis; Yoo Sun Na (soprano) and Minkyung Oh (piano)