Artweek Host Takeover: Hanna Kim and Joseph Seo (H&J Quintet)
Each month, we are handing the controls over to our Event Hosts to share their story. Kicking things off are H&J Quintet founders speaking on music, faith, visual art, and connecting to their community.
On May 6th, 2017, I had the privilege of leading H&J Quintet: Jazz Improvisation-Hymnal Jazz Artist Talk, in partnership with City on a Hill Church Brookline and Artweek Boston. My band’s name H&J Quintet comes from me and my husband’s first names: the H for Hanna and J for Joseph who is the drummer and also a painter. While we attended Berklee, I met my other band members; Marcelo Maccagnan, Tristan Garrity, and Seyun Park. I was looking for musicians who could be expressive, with an awareness of the music in the moment, and who listen and respect the music and their fellow musicians. We recently finished our first jazz album called “Reminisce” that is going to be released by the fall.
Our band plays my original arrangements of old hymns. My life’s calling is to love God and love people. The lyrics of the old hymns bring to life these principles. Writing hymnal jazz combines my faith and talent into a vocation. My memories of childhood in South Korea are filled with my family singing hymns together. I can remember my grandmother singing, “I would rather have Jesus” and “Softly and Tenderly”. The jazz style has a place in Christian music in gospel and swing style jazz music. But my arrangements bring Brazilian Jazz and ecclesiastical music together. I carefully arrange so that the harmonies are relatable and understandable to the general public, yet challenging to the jazz musicians and true to the genre. I seek to communicate with my audience and my fellow musicians.
I love how Artweek connects thousands of local artists to the city in a way that really encourages their work and strengthens our great community. I am very thankful to be part of such a great event that exposes so many people to the visual and musical art that is going on all over the city.
As a flutist, composer, arranger and jazz musician, my goal is to open communication with audience through my music. I want to foster a love for jazz as well as community with other audience members. We designed our performance space to promote good conversation by having snacks and space to talk in a side room. We decorated the entrance with my husband’s acrylic paintings. Kate Ji Soo Lee ushered the event, creating connection for the audience.
A highlight for me was sharing about my original composition “Prayer for Boston” which I composed during the Boston Marathon Bombing as a tribute to the people who were affected by this tragedy. Then our substitute bassist Luis Celis and the pianist Seyun Park began their improvisation using tremolos and dynamics to create the beginning of the tune. Joseph came in with march grooves on the drums, which culminated in my flute melodies. Tristan skillfully accompanied the rhythm as well as improvised on the guitar throughout the tune. My hope is that the music took the audience to that tragic event and honored the victims and all the people that selflessly and heroically served that day.
After the concert, Brookline neighbors stayed to talk and connect. My band looks forward to continuing to contribute to community building through neighborhood performances. I am thankful for City on a Hill Church’s commitment to community and am thankful for their providing their office space for the performance.
The response of the audience was very supportive; Boston arts supporters are wonderful. Audience member Likai said, “Apart from the crowded space, the music was truly the most mesmerizing performance I’ve seen in a while! This is serious jazz! Hope your album is released soon!” and Sooj said “So much talent! Can’t wait for your album to drop.” What a blessing it was to perform my art with my talented band to connect with my neighbors in Brookline.
Are you an ArtWeek Event Host interested in sharing your story? Are you interested in being a part of ArtWeek next season (April 27 — May 6, 2018)? Email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org!