Musical Diplomacy: A Concert in North Korea



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On February 26, Conductor Lorin Maazel led the New York Philharmonic on an unprecedented concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, at the invitation of the North Korean government. It was the first time a major American orchestra had performed in the communist country.

The program opened with the national anthems of both North Korea and the United States, then moved on to music from Wagner's Lohengrin, Dvorak's "New World" Symphony and Gershwin's An American in Paris; the orchestra encored with the overture from Leonard Bernstein's Candide and with "Arirang," a much-loved Korean folk song described by the Associated Press as "an unofficial anthem for reunification ... [of] the rival Koreas."

The concert was broadcast nationwide; a senior U.S. diplomat reportedly told Maazel that the concert "could well have done more for U.S.-North Korean relations than 30 years of diplomatic efforts."

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