Korean culture will be explored in a gala on Saturday at St. Ambrose University.

Korean culture, including symphonic music and art, the story of Korean adoptions and a discussion of the politically changed landscape of Korea is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Allaert Auditorium in the Galvin Fine Arts Center, 518 Locust St., Davenport.

The event is free and open to the public.

It is headlined by members of the college staff: Marian Lee, who was born in Minneapolis and organized the event; Duk Kim, a political science professor who emigrated from South Korea to St. Louis in 1990; and Renee Meyer Ernst, an artist and associate professor, who was adopted from South Korea when she was 3 months old and grew up in Denver, Iowa.

Lee, a pianist who heads up the keyboard program in the music department, said the idea for the gala started when she met the principal clarinetist of the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Won, also from Korea.

The event includes a talk by political scientist Duk Kim, music from professional musicians including Lee, Won, Yoo Jung Chang, and Younjung Cha and the artwork of Renee Meyer Ernst and Ken Cunningham, a former Army Ranger who was born in Korea and served in Iraq.

It is part of the university's theme this year, "Faces of Globalization."

"This is a wonderful way to integrate the music into that theme," Lee said. She notes Korea is in the news nearly every day, and there is heated rhetoric on both sides of the world.

Because of this, Kim, the guest speaker, will seek to provide context, discussing the relationship between the U.S. and Korea, 1945-50, when the country was divided in two, and in 2017, on the relationship of North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

While that relationship has caused concern in the United States, Kim said the people of South Korea are far less worried.

Kim teaches political science and international relations. He emigrated from Seoul in 1990, and is a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Bettendorf. But his mother still lives in South Korea, and he leads St. Ambrose students to his homeland and Japan every other year during a study-abroad trip.

With the strong personalities at the top of the leadership in the U.S. and North Korea, Kim said he will try to provide perspective in his talk.

The musicians will perform music from Korea, but also from around the world, including the work of Sergei Rachmanioff, Johannes Brahms and George Gershwin. The concert program will end with a sing-along, led by Nathan Windt and Hunhui Oh.

The Morrisey Art Gallery in the lobby will contain the work of Ernst and Cunningham. Ernst, will also speak during the service, "Mirror Image: Reflections on Identity."

As a Korean American, Ernst was raised in Denver, near Waterloo, Iowa. She earned degrees in graphic arts at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University, Ames, and has worked at SAU since 2008.

Ernst sees her career in graphic arts as reflective of her status as an adoptee in the United States. She has made two trips back to Korea to find her natural mother, or family members but neither one was successful.

In fine arts, Ernst makes digital collages that include photographs she took in Korea. Like many others, she worries about the situation with the North Korean leadership, and the people in South Korea.

Lee's background in music includes degrees from the Julliard School and a Fulbright grant to study music from a noted pianist in the former Soviet Union. She has performed at Carnegie Hall and at sites around the world.

A reception follows the gala with food and wine provided.

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