SDGF is no stranger to electric guitar, but Jiji’s concert was unlike anything we’ve heard! Half electric guitar, half classical guitar; all amplified!

The Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden proved to be a great venue for guitar without the need of amplification. In general, the classical guitar is not the loudest instrument, yet amplification is often met with resistance by many guitarists. For Jiyeon Kim, aka Jiji, this isn’t an issue or concern, but an advantage. By embracing amplification and other audio technology, not only can she achieve a great quality of sound, she is also able to execute new possibilities on the instrument that weren’t there before. It is no wonder why her repertoire includes new works dedicated to her for both classical and electric guitar.

Jiji’s visit started with a masterclass at the SDSU School of Music and Dance where she coached soloists and a duo before an audience of attentive guitar students and guitar fans from the community- followed by a trip to one of San Diego’s best taco shops, Tacos El Gordo, where she got to try their legendary tacos de adobada!

Jiji has the amazing ability to speak to the audience and really engage every person in the room before she even plays, but when we saw Jiji’s concert program we knew we were in for a treat! To start with Asturias is a bold choice! And half of her program had been written in the past three years; including a piece composed by herself inspired by Japanese aesthetics, and a new work for guitar and electronics by award-winning composer Krists Auznieks. Fun fact: the Auznieks piece, titled Cor, had its world premiere at the Lincoln Center in New York the following week! She also included some fan-favorite selections from Ginastera’s guitar sonata, Bach’s BWV 998, and Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.

To call this a “classical guitar recital” would not be entirely accurate. A modern guitar program for sure, but there is no doubt that Jiji is a 21st-century guitarist.

Following the concert, our friends from the SDSU Korean Student Association organized a reception for Jiji with all kinds of Korean snacks- at the Japanese Friendship Garden! This may have been a guitar concert, but in the end, it felt more like a multi-cultural celebration, which is what SDGF is all about!

Photography: Glorissa Rodriguez