Thursday nights at 9PM on WABE Atlanta you can hear broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic recent performances. Next week, on the 13th, they will be broadcasting the orchestra’s performance from Pyongyang, North Korea.
When I first heard that the NYPhil would be going to North Korea I didn’t believe or understand it, but I think it is a great cultural exchange even if it is with one of the most tyrannical dictators in the world. The executive director of the orchestra said “This journey is a manifestation of the power of music to unite people.” I’m not sure we’re united but it is a nice gesture in bridging the gap between a country whose affairs we want to have a lot to do with. I was also surprised that the trip got the approval of the US State Department.
Also I found out that this was not the first such attempt to use music to make peace/improve relations. In 1999, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra made a trip to Havana to give the first performance of a US orchestra on the island since the trade embargo began 37 years prior. If anyone can find a version of this or even a bill of what was performed send it along. In the meantime, check out the Pyongyang performance and let’s hope for the best.