New York Philharmonic in North Korea

The World
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JS said the performance was nothing short of remarkable: to hear the Star Spangled Banner in North Korea is unique and then the concert was varied and the audience seemed appreciated. Some of the orchestra members said they were moved to tears and they feel the concert allowed them to demonstrate what they came to do. (Did the performance feel like propaganda?) I don’t think that’s fair criticism. This was a concert designed to be a reaching out to North Korean music lovers, so it’s not surprising the pieces chosen had an American theme. I spoke to some audience members and one man said the concert succeeded in humanizing Americans. (This is not the kind of concert where the average North Korean was allowed to attend, so who was there?) Many dignitaries and officials, also some musicians, students based here in Pyongyang. The concert was also broadcast live on North Korean television, so this concert could’ve been carried into the homes of North Koreans. (Any particularly interesting moments?) Gershwin’s �American in Paris� was interesting, one that shows humor in American culture.

SC says cultural exchanges are vital despite their human rights record, isolating North Korea will only make thing worse for the people there. if you try to integrate them, the country can open up. I would never condone any abuse of human rights, but I also feel strongly that you can move forward. (What’s the nature of your exchanges with Pyongyang?) I’m an ambassador for my hometown in England. It all went from there. I was so fascinated by the country that I’ve returned every year since.

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