North Korea orchestra to play in Paris

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North Korea orchestra to play in Paris

Renowned South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun said Tuesday the French orchestra that he leads will have a joint performance with a North Korean orchestra in Paris next month.

“North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 together at the Salle Pleyel theater in Paris on March 14 at the invitation of the French side,” Chung told a news conference in Seoul.

He said the decision was made during his meeting with North Korean musicians early this week on the sidelines of his Asian performance tour in Beijing.

The meeting participants, however, failed to arrange a much anticipated joint orchestra performance between the two Koreas, according to Chung, who doubles as conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

During the meeting, the maestro said he proposed a joint performance between the Seoul Philharmonic and the North’s Unhasu. The North turned the proposal down, however, citing “frosty political relations” with the South.

Still, the planned performance is meaningful in that it involves musicians from three nations - the two Koreas and France - because five members of the French ensemble double as members of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Chung will conduct.

“I cannot stage a joint performance between the two Koreas’ orchestras right now because of the political tensions but understand the March 14 performance as the first step toward that goal. Many other projects are already under discussion,” he said, without giving details of the projects.

There was much anticipation for what could have been the first joint orchestra performance between the two Koreas. The maestro said last week there would be good news regarding prospects for the performance.

The two Koreas’ philharmonic orchestras held a joint concert in Seoul in August 2000, two months after a landmark summit between their leaders. In 2002, the two Koreas again held another joint concert in Pyongyang.

In September, Chung, who also doubles as a Unicef “goodwill ambassador,” traveled to the North, where he agreed with North Korean musicians to push for regular performances of a joint symphony orchestra of the two countries. Yonhap
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