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South Korean conductor to travel to North Korea

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Classical music has often served as a form of soft diplomacy in cases of Cold War detente. This week, a prominent South Korean conductor is scheduled travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, to rehearse a planned joint performance in Paris by North Korean and French orchestras.

Born in South Korea, Myung-Whun Chung is a renowned conductor who has spent much of his career in France. He led the Paris Opera from 1989 to 1994, and has served as music director the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France since 2000. (He also served as an assistant and associate conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic starting in the late ‘70s.)

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The concert is set to take place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on March 14, and is expected to include Brahms’ Symphony No. 1.

The concert, led by Chung, will include members of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and North Korea’s Unhasu Orchestra. The news of the rehearsal was reported by Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Chung had initially proposed a joint performance between the Seoul metropolitan orchestra and the North’s Unhasu, but the North rejected the offer. The two Koreas have joined musical forces before in joint concerts 2000 and 2002 in Seoul and Pyongyang, respectively.

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-- David Ng and Sherry Stern

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