The New York Philharmonic brought musical diplomacy to the heart of communist North Korea in a historic concert Tuesday before the communist nationâ€™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 Pyongyangâ€™s nuclear weapons programs. The Philharmonic began the concert with â€œPatriotic Songâ€ â€” North Koreaâ€™s national anthem â€” followed by the U.S. anthem, â€œThe Star-Spangled Banner.â€ 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 Wagnerâ€™s â€œLohengrin,â€ the orchestra moved on to pieces that aimed to show the ensembleâ€™s importance in American music. That included two pieces that premiered with the Philharmonic: Antonin Dvorakâ€™s Symphony No. 9 â€” popularly known as the â€œNew World Symphony,â€ written while the Czech composer lived in the United States and inspired by native American themes â€” and George Gershwinâ€™s â€œAn American in Paris.â€
Musical Diplomacy in North Korea
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