Words and Music
When In Pyongyang
by Kate Julian
MARCH 3, 2008
With the New York Philharmonic slated to make its Pyongyang debut this week, Lorin Maazel, the music director, confessed to some trepidation about the visit. ("I wrote an opera called '1984.' Can that be clearer?") But, some weeks ago, with visions of 1971 Ping-Pong diplomacy in mind, Maazel decided that the concert, which will be broadcast live across North Korea, warranted a few remarks ("introducing music, not talking about North Korean gulags") from the conductor. "It seemed only appropriate, with the North Koreans sitting in the audience and the Americans sitting onstage, that there be some kind of verbal bridge, a 'We're happy to be here and this is what we're playing and hope you enjoy the concert' sort of thing -- just by way of breaking the ice," he explained over the phone last week from Hong Kong, where the Philharmonic was halfway through a tour that was to culminate in concerts in both North and South Korea.
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