Pyongyang prepares to hear historic concert
Tuesday 26 February 2008
The New York Philharmonic arrived in North Korea yesterday, becoming the most prominent US cultural institution to visit the nuclear-armed country, run by a regime that keeps its impoverished people among the world's most isolated.
North Korea made unprecedented accommodations for the orchestra, allowing a delegation of nearly 300 people – including musicians, staff and journalists – to fly into Pyongyang on a chartered plane for a 48-hour visit.
The Philharmonic's concert tonight is to be broadcast live on North Korea's state TV and radio, an event unheard of in a country where events are choreographed to bolster the personality cult of the leader, Kim Jong-il.
Last year, the Philharmonic accepted the North's invitation to play, with the encouragement of the US government, at a time of rare optimism in the long-running nuclear standoff involving the two countries.
After testing an atomic bomb in October 2006, North Korea shut its main nuclear reactor in July and has been disabling it in exchange for aid and removal from US terrorism and sanctions blacklists.
But disarmament has stalled because of what Washington says is North Korea's failure to give a full declaration of its atomic programmes to be dismantled, as Pyongyang promised.
The music director, Lorin Maazel, said if the music moves the audience, "we will have made whatever contribution we can make to bringing our peoples just one tiny step closer". The concert will include Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No 9 and An American in Paris by George Gershwin. Among planned encores was the Korean folk song "Arirang", beloved in the North and the South.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...