MUSIC : An Eclectic Program Targets Koreans : The Garden Grove Symphony plans a free show of Korean folk music, barbershop quartets and Tchaikovsky's "1812" Overture.

The sweet sounds of Korean folk music, the close harmony of barbershop quartet singing, the blasting noise of cannons and bells . . .

What else could this be but an outdoor concert by the Garden Grove Symphony, offering a free program here Saturday in Village Green Park?

The program will include Korean soprano Duk Soon Nam, the barbershop Orange Empire Chorus and live cannons and bells for Tchaikovsky's perennial "1812" Overture (what else?).

Booking Nam is one way of reaching out to the city's Korean community, orchestra marketing director Yaakov Dvir-Djerassi said.

"Orange County is a major center of the Korean community in the United States, and Garden Grove has a very large population of Korean-Americans," Dvir-Djerassi said. "There are five Korean banks alone on Garden Grove Boulevard. That's how important a center it is.

"We will also have Korean conductor Won-Sik Lim and Korean violinist Elisa Lee Koljonen open our new season on Sept. 22," he added.

Nam will sing two Korean folk songs--"Diamond Mountain" and "Lovely Flower"--on the Saturday program. There is a real Diamond Mountain--in North Korea.

"Anyone who looks at Diamond Mountain feels wonderful," Nam said through a translator last week. "It is a little different from any other mountain in Korea. Nothing else is like it."

The song has personal meaning too. "Every time I sing this song, I remember my parents, who (fled) from North Korea," she said. "They miss it."

The song, Nam said, tells "in a beautiful melody" the effect the mountain has on people. "But there is also a little story about freedom and unity."

The soprano, however, is doubtful about when the political unity may materialize that would allow her or her parents to see the mountain again soon.

Unity of the two Koreas remains a distant goal, she said.

"We can unite through music," Nam ventured cautiously.

A dramatic soprano who also sings opera and lieder, Nam studied in Germany and Italy as well as in her native county.

At first, she found studying in other languages difficult. "Difficult, yes, but it was a challenge," she said. "Pronunciation is a little difficult, but the feelings are similar."

Nam splits her time between Orange County and her home in Seoul. She last sang with the Garden Grove Symphony on a New Year's Eve program in 1989.

Nam, 40, also is one of the founding directors of the Orange County Korean-American Children's Choir, a chorus of about 50 that was started last year.

Future plans include singing in a new opera in Seoul and with the Santa Ana Symphony, led by Korean conductor Chong J. Park, on a date not yet set for next year.

If you think that barbershop singing is a bygone relic from the turn of the century, there are plenty of people ready to tell you that you're wrong.

The Orange Empire Chorus, also on the Garden Grove Symphony program, alone can muster 55 singers. But that group is "just one chapter of hundreds in the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America," barbershopper Art Clayton said.

Friends just call it the SPEBQSA.

"There are some 40,000 men in the society nationwide," Clayton said.

And if that wasn't enough, there are chapters in Sweden, Britain, Canada, Australia and the Soviet Union.

The Empire Chorus, directed by Jess Taylor, dates back to the 1940s. It is just one of 72 such groups in the West and competes with nearby chapters in Whittier, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo at events such as an international barbershop quartet competition held in San Francisco over the July 4 weekend. That contest was won by the Masters of Harmony from Santa Fe Springs.

"Some 10,000 barbershoppers gathered for the event," Clayton said.

A retired manager of publications at Hughes Aircraft Co., Clayton, 59, has been singing with the barbershop chorus for 10 years and pointed with pride to the barbershop heritage.

"We feel that there are two basic styles of music that are indigenous to our country: jazz, from New Orleans, and barbershop harmony, which started in Oklahoma City (in the late 1880s) and spread across the country."

Barbershop singing is characterized by four-part harmony and is sung by quartets or by larger groups. Typically there is no musical accompaniment, but on Saturday the chorus will sing one selection, "America the Beautiful," with the orchestra.

He attributed its appeal to music and fraternity: "The songs are simple and everlasting, they're easy to sing, the words are understandable. We sing a lot of 'Sweetheart' and 'Mothers' and things of this nature."

Members come from "all walks of life" and range in age from 19 to 80, Clayton said, but the group "is always encouraging new individuals to come and visit us. People are always welcome, any Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Park's Junior High School in Fullerton.

"The one thing that brings this fraternity together in close community is the common bond in sharing our musical interests and hobby."

Future concerts include a fund-raiser for the Institute of Logopedics, a Wichita-based institute that treats adults and children with speech and hearing disabilities, on Sept. 8 at Pearson Park in Anaheim; and an annual show, Jan. 11, 1991, at Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton.

Soprano Duk Soon Nam and the Orange Empire Chorus will appear separately with the Garden Grove Symphony in a free "Summer Symphony in the Park" concert at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Village Green Park, Euclid and Main streets, Garden Grove. Information: (714) 534-1103.

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