Review of North Korea's National Orchestra

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Review of North Korea's National Orchestra

It is nearly impossible to melt traditional Korean folk music with orchestral music. The result is usually more confusing than pleasant to one's ear. Therefore, an appropriate orchestral arrangement is crucial in order to keep the authenticity of these two very different types of music.

The performance by the National Orchestra of the Democratic Party of the Republic of Korea (DPRK) on August 21 at Seoul Art Center took the audiences' breaths away by creatively assimilating these two very different types of music and creating one beautiful harmony.

The orchestra performed the folk songs, 'Arirang' and 'The Swing-Riding Virgin,' beautifully by giving vitality to the music. Although detailed musical expression were also very impressive, more surprising was the temperate arrangement, which did not contain even one unneccessary passage in supporting the vocal solos.

The North Korean soprano singer Lee Hyang-sook and base singer Heo Kwang-soo moved audiences when they performed the traditional songs first created before the division of the peninsula, 'Remembering My Friend' by Park Tae-joon and 'The Balsam' by Hong Nan-pa.

However, Tchaikovsky's fourth movement of 'Symphony Number Four' and Rossini's 'Cseville's Baber's Prelude' unfortunatly did not meet critics' and audiences' expectations due to the lack of detailed rythyms and orchestral ensemble.

Also, we felt dissatisfied that the South-North orchestras only exchanged solo players rather than having a complete' South-North co-performance'.

The next performance will be broadcast by KBS-1TV on August 22 at 7:00 P.M.

by Lee Jang-jik

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