Saturday, March 8, 2008


I've tried twice over the past few days to post a youtube video link of the New York Philharmonic's February 27 concert in North Korea, but the web gods have not been cooperative. My writing class students, several of whom are South Korean immigrants, followed the press coverage of the historic event, and our class will have the privilege next week of hearing an informal lecture by the New York Times cultural reporter who accompanied the orchestra to Pyongyang. I was deeply moved by a video clip of the audience's response to the beautiful Korean folksong "Arirang," which the Philharmonic played as a last, unannounced encore. Condoleezza Rice opined that playing Dvorak (his New World Symphony was on the program) would not do much for detente, but the sight of the audience and the musicians waving to each other suggests another possibility: that detente begins in the heart. As John Deak, the Philharmonic's principal bassist, said:

"Half of the orchestra burst into tears, including myself, and we started waving back at them and suddenly there was this kind of artistic bond that is just a miracle. I'm not going to make any statements about what's going to change . . . . Things happen slowly. But I do know that the most profound connection was made with the Korean people tonight."

You can watch a video of the Philharmonic's concert here.

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