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Thursday, February 28

The New York Philharmonic in North Korea

From our reader Tom in the comment section under Liz's The New Religious landscape post below:

"I had an unaffiliated religious experience of sorts last night. I just happened to catch the live broadcast from Pyongyang of the New York Philharmonic
I just had to watch it all. It was really profound as the significance of each piece sank in.
It hardly got any media attention at all, and of course, the usual suspects were outraged, as if they have any comprehension of fine art at all. Anything that can bring both sides to tears must be sinister and subversive."

Watch their performance of Arirang:

You can watch the concert in full this evening (2/28/08) on PBS - Great Performances (check local listings). Here on the East Coast it is scheduled to be on from 9:30 - 11:30 pm.

Or, you can watch it in full here at

The New York Philharmonic's historic concert in North Korea's capital city Pyongyang premieres via satellite, with Music Director Lorin Maazel leading the orchestra in Wagner's Prelude to Act III of "Lohengrin," Dvorák's "Symphony No. 9" ("From the New World"), and Gershwin's "An American in Paris." Opening with the national anthems of North Korea and the United States, the program will be transmitted from the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, with behind-the-scenes coverage by Bob Woodruff of ABC News. The network has had rare access inside the closed society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where contact with the outside world is completely forbidden to citizens. The Philharmonic visit marks the first by American artists there. "I have always felt that music is a powerful language," says Maestro Maazel, "in which those of us who are humane and intelligent can speak to each other, in defiance of political and cultural boundaries." The concert is the centerpiece of a 48-hour visit to Pyongyang by the Philharmonic.

This is one of THE GREATEST Great Performances I have ever seen on PBS, and the "behind-the-scenes-coverage" is an understatement. I never really knew or understood the history of the DPRK and Kim Jong II.

I am speechless.

crossposted at BigBrassBlog

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