Ondo is a fusion Korean traditional music team who dreams of making the world warm through their music. They recently appeared as a candidate representative of Ewha in the second season of Vocal Play, a Korean audition program which uncovers talented university student musicians from all over the world.
Ondo first captured the audience with “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, in which they incorporated a uniquely traditional twist. The video containing their performance has so far accumulated over 500,700 views on Youtube just after one month of being uploaded.
Their team is consisted of Kim Ah-young, Nam Ji-yeon, and Lee Chan-young, who are in charge of the singing, piano, and daegum, a long Korean traditional transverse flute. Kim and Lee majored in the Department of Korean Music, whereas Nam majored in Business Management of Performing Arts. Kim spoke of the meaning behind their team name.
“Ondo has two meanings,” Kim said in an interview with Ewha Voice. “It can mean on top of the musical note, do, or to make people’s hearts warm, as the Chinese character of ‘on’ means warmth.”
She explained that the history of Ondo goes back to May, as the team was formed with the purpose of performing in Ewha in Star, an audition project hosted by The Graduate School of Performing Arts. After Nam coincidentally saw Kim and Lee perform at Chapel, she contacted them to ask if they could perform with her in Ewha in Star. This encounter led them to continue their musical journey into Vocal Play 2.
“Ondo’s strongest asset is that we are a crossover team,” Kim said. “The daegum, though it is a traditional Korean instrument, has a light and friendly sound. People are also very familiar with the piano – this makes our songs more approachable to the public, despite having deeply rooted traditional Korean foundations.”
They spoke of the difficulties they faced in the audition program. Being a group dealing with traditional Korean music, they had trouble incorporating the Korean instruments into each performed song. The songs not only had to go well with the daegum and piano, but also had to give off traditional Korean vibes.
Incorporating the daegum into the songs was especially difficult, as the daegum has a limited number of holes which leads to a narrowed note range. They stated that there was not a single song they didn’t have trouble with.
When asked what song they felt most attached to, everyone agreed that it was Ibyeolga, a traditional Korean song, deeply colored with the uniquely Korean emotion of sadness and sorrow, han.
“This was exactly the kind of music we wanted to portray,” the members said. “It’s the East and West crossover we wanted to introduce to the audience. It’s definitely the song we feel most attached to.”
The stage in which Ondo sang Ibyeolga decided whether they would advance to the finals or not. Through Ibyeolga, Ondo warmed the hearts of the audience and advanced to the finals with remarkable scores.
“My goal is to familiarize people with traditional Korean music,” Lee said. “People have the perception that traditional Korean music is boring. I want to prove that this is a misconception, by contributing to making traditional Korean music a natural part of our music life. People are not surprised when they see the piano. It would be nice if they thought the same way when considering traditional Korean instruments like the daegum.”
They also expressed great thanks to fellow Ewha students. They stated that they were showered with encouragement and love by peers, which helped them grow and stay strong.
“I can not express my thanks enough,” Kim said. “This experience reinforced the Ewha spirit to me once again.”