American jazz singer returns to Korea, touting human rights for the North

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American jazz singer returns to Korea, touting human rights for the North

Barbara Hendricks, a leading recitalist and one of the most prolific and versatile artists in the music world today, will return after five years to perform at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
Her last concert there sold out, and the Korean media raved about the African-American’s dazzling performance of Mozart’s “Aria” to an enchanted audience, who rewarded her with a 20-minute standing ovation.
Since her first concert in 1976 at the San Francisco Opera in Poppea, Hendricks, a native of Stephens, Arkansas, has explored many different styles of classical music, including baroque, contemporary, recitals and orchestras, French, German, Scandinavanian, Spanish, Russian and American.
Hendricks is also known as a fervent advocate of human rights and world peace; her Korea concert, titled “Human Is There,” is dedicated to human rights in North Korea. The 58-year-old artist will be performing jazz songs backed by the great young Swedish Magnus Lindgren Quartet, with whom Hendricks has worked for the last five years on songs by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
Asked why she chose to sing jazz, she replied, “It’s not such a stretch for me to add jazz since I have grown up with Negro Sprituals, the traditional music of the African slaves.”

“Barbara Hendricks & Magnus Lindgren Quarter” is at 7:30 p.m. on March 28 at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in southern Seoul. Tickets cost 30,000 won (around $30), 70,000 won, 100,000 won and 200,000 won and are sold through or 1588-7890. For more inquires, contact Advanced Music Production at (02) 3445-2813~5.

Q. You’ve helped the poor for a long time.
A. The focus of my work and my beliefs are found in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was proclaimed by the general assembly of the United Nations in 1948. I do believe as stated in its first article that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights, are endowed with reason and conscience and should behave toward one another in the spirit of brotherhood. Since 1987, I have worked actively as a good-will ambassador for the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. During this time I have become attached to the cause of refugees all over the world.

What good memories do you have of refugee work?
I have very moving memories of the refugees themselves, particularly the women, whose dignity and courage has inspired me to continue in spite of the difficulties. They do not give up, so I cannot give up the struggle for human rights either. The work of the UNHCR and its partners in the field has been also a great inspiration to me.

Why are you concerned about human rights in North Korea?
Political situations differ but the fundamentals of human rights are universal for me. I feel that we all have the responsibility to fight for the human rights of all, no matter where they live.

by Ines Cho
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