Musical Diplomacy in North Korea

The New York Philharmonic brought musical diplomacy to the heart of communist North Korea in a historic concert Tuesday before the communist nation’s elite, playing a program highlighting American music in the nuclear-armed country that considers the United States its mortal enemy. The Philharmonic is the first major American cultural group to perform in the country and the largest delegation from the United States to visit its longtime foe. The visit grew out of a period of warming relations between the nations that remain locked in negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs. The Philharmonic began the concert with “Patriotic Song” — North Korea’s national anthem — followed by the U.S. anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The audience stood for both songs and applauded after. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il did not appear to be in attendance at the 2,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theater. The U.S. and North Korean flags were both on display at opposite ends of the stage. Following the brief prelude to Act 3 of Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” the orchestra moved on to pieces that aimed to show the ensemble’s importance in American music. That included two pieces that premiered with the Philharmonic: Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 — popularly known as the “New World Symphony,” written while the Czech composer lived in the United States and inspired by native American themes — and George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

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Setlist Architect/Art Scene Checker-Outer/Sound Feeler
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