June 03, 2023

Dialogue with North Korea through music

Take advantage of Pyongyang's high prioritization of classical music through joint endeavors

In February 2008, the New York Philharmonic traveled to Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. Just before the main concert, there was an unprecedented performance of Mendelssohn’s Octet by four members from New York Philharmonic and four members from Pyongyang National Orchestra. Upon entering the grand music hall, the New York Philharmonic musicians were met with an audience of hundreds of North Koreans. Although the musicians had asked for private rehearsals with the North Korean musicians, at the behest of a North Korean director they were obliged to perform upon arrival. The performance went smoothly and drew praise from the audience. The performance was a testament to North Korea’s high regard for classical music, an unmistakable fact that forms the basis of my project detailed below.