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N.Y. Phil Makes Sweet Music, History in N. Korea

Posted February. 27, 2008 08:16,   


The New York Philharmonic yesterday became the first American cultural troupe to perform in North Korea.

Under conductor Lorin Maazel, the world-renowned orchestra began its 90-minute performance at 6 p.m. at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater in the North Korean capital. In front of an audience of North Koreans and foreign guests, the concert was broadcast live on TV in South and North Korea and selected countries including the United States and China.

With large national flags of the United States and North Korea hanging in the background, the ensemble played a selection from Richard Wagner`s opera "Lohengrin," Antonin Dvorak`s "New World Symphony" and George Gershwin`s "An American in Paris." The audience responded with orderly yet enthusiastic applause.

The concert began with the Philharmonic playing the national anthems of North Korea and the United States successively, the first time for “The Star Spangled Banner” to be played in Pyongyang under the North Korean government.

The orchestra also invited six North Korean musicians to join in playing the Korean folk song "Arirang" as an encore.

Before the performance, Philharmonic members held a rehearsal in front of about 1,500 North Koreans at the theater under the direction of conductor Maazel.

They also gave souvenirs such as CDs and music books to students at Pyongyang Music and Dance College after giving a lecture at the school.

The orchestra will also give a joint concert with the (North) Korea State Symphony Orchestra under Maazel’s direction at the Moranbong Grand Theater Wednesday morning.

The Philharmonic will then fly South Korea in the afternoon to prepare for its last performance on its tour at Seoul Arts Center Thursday.