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S. Korean conductor to conduct joint N. Korean-French orchestra

A world-renowned South Korean conductor said on Tuesday that he would conduct a joint performance of the French and North Korean orchestras in Paris on March 14 and he hopes this will pave the way for musicians from the two Koreas to perform together in the near future.

“What I wanted the most was to have musicians from North and South Korea perform together, but (we) decided to stage a joint performance of French and North Korean orchestras first, because there are still lingering political problems,” Chung Myung-whun, who leads the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, told reporters in Yeouido, Seoul.

North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra will perform with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, where Chung serves as musical director. The North Korean orchestra will perform at the Salle Pleyel in Paris at the invitation of Radio France, a French public service radio broadcaster, Chung added.

“I will lead the two orchestras, so it is a meeting of South Korea, North Korea and France,” he said. There are five South Korean orchestra members in the French orchestra, who also perform with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, he added.

The conductor announced the plan during a press conference held on the day he led the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Seoul. He left the stage without taking questions from reporters.

The French and North Korean musicians will perform Brahms’ Symphony No.1 in Paris, Chung said.

The announcement disappointed many here as news of Chung meeting with North Korean musicians in Beijing to discuss a joint performance with the orchestras of the two Koreas in Pyongyang spread.

Chung confirmed that he met North Korean musicians to discuss the matter in Beijing on Sunday.

“A joint performance by the two Koreas will not be staged this time because of the current political situation which North Koreans label as ‘frozen,’” he said,

“But the joint performance (in Paris) can be seen as a path toward two Koreas performing together in the near future,” he added.

In September, Chung who also acts as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, visited North Korea and met with North Korean musicians to push for regular performances by a joint symphony orchestra of the two countries.

Such joint performances would aim to help ease the continuing tension between the two Koreas that started after the North’s two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.


By Cho Chung-un
(christory@heraldcorp.com)
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