[THRIVE! Series]: Samulnori and Me

BY SEBASTIAN WANG

My name is Sebastian Wang. I am a professional musician specializing in traditional Korean percussion, known as Samulnori. I grew up in Maryland and have lived there most of my life. I started learning Korean music in 4th grade here in the U.S. Afterwards, I studied at the Korean National University of Arts in Seoul. I returned to the States and began my full-time professional music career.

Through my God-given talent and life, I feel that I am contributing by teaching and performing in a way that is pleasing to God.

When I was first approached about this article, I was honored and stunned that the church would be interested in my life and my role in my community. As a relatively new person in the church I was surprised to be considered. I feel as if I have a role in the community as an ambassador for Korean music. I teach lessons to elementary children through after-school programs; conduct workshops of Samulnori for all ages, educating people and providing exposure to this special form of Korean culture; and teach a Korean percussion class at the University of Maryland, College Park, where we have a concert every semester. In addition, my professional percussion group, Washington Samulnori, performs at many local cultural and music events in the greater Washington DC area. Through these blessings, I feel like I am thriving in my community.

As a son of a Korean mother and Chinese father, born and raised in America, I often felt lost regarding who I was culturally. But in Samulnori, I was able to find part of my identity – my Korean heritage. In addition, with this music I am able add to the diversity of the DC area to showcase and expose other people to an aspect of Korean music and culture that is very hard to find in this region or the United States as a whole.

Through my God-given talent and life, I feel that I am contributing by teaching and performing in a way that is pleasing to God. And I feel like the unique experiences that God has granted and placed in my life, have really led me to contribute to all my communities in his name. I feel that I am contributing to the uniqueness and diversity of my local community, the Korean community, the music community, and the greater DC community. Through these multiple communities, I feel like we are all thriving together.

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Sebastian Wang is the Director of Korean Percussion Ensemble at the University of Maryland.