Monday, February 25, 2008

NY Philharmonic Arrives in North Korea

CNN reports the arrival of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in North Korea:
The visit comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended Monday's inauguration of South Korea's new president, Lee Myung-bak. She said before leaving Washington that she had no plans to stop in Pyongyang during a trip that also takes her to China and Japan.

"I don't think we should get carried away with what listening to Dvorak is going to do in North Korea," Rice, a classical pianist herself, said Friday, while also conceding the benefit of the event in giving North Koreans a window to the outside world.

The concert will feature Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 and "An American in Paris" by George Gershwin. Among the encores planned is the Korean folk song "Arirang," beloved in both the North and South.

The performance will begin with the orchestra playing the national anthems of both countries and the U.S. and North Korean flags will stand together on stage, said the Philharmonic's president and executive director, Zarin Mehta.

Ahead of their arrival, North Korea was even tearing down the anti-U.S. posters that line the streets of Pyongyang, Mehta said Sunday. He cited a diplomat based there who briefed the orchestra before its departure from Beijing, the last stop on a tour of the greater China region.

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