February 22, 2012 11:32
Renowned conductor Chung Myung-whun has invited North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra for a joint concert with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra in Paris on March 14. Chung, who leads both the French orchestra and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday, "I waited all of my life for musicians from the South and North to meet, but because of the frozen relations between the two I decided to hold a concert in France led by a [South] Korean conductor and North Korean and French musicians."
According to Radio Free Asia, the Unhasu Orchestra was formed in 2009 and consists of around 100 singers and musicians. Its overseas-educated members have undertaken new projects like rearranging traditional North Korean and propaganda songs. Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il saw the orchestra perform in July last year and praised it, saying "All other art troupes should learn from it."
Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will foot the cost for the trip. Chung met North Korean officials in Beijing on Sunday. The conductor also visited North Korea in September last year trying to get a joint concert in Seoul and Pyongyang underway, but the plan fell through. "This concert is just the first step and the first stage," he said, hinting that he has not given up on the original plan.
In North Korea last year, Chung conducted a rehearsal by the North's National Philharmonic and Unhasu orchestras. "North Korea only recently opened its doors to classical music and is still in its early stages, but the technical skills of individual members are quite outstanding," he said.
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