Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NY Philharmonic Uses Music As Welcomed Foreign Policy For North Korea...

Tha Artivist Writes:

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. ~ Charlie "Bird" Parker

I thoroughly enjoyed the article...I may be biased, but the power of art is sometimes taken for granted...If you can learn the song of a people you can learn their history: Their pains, joys, sorrows and triumphs...

DuBois call this phenomenon The Sorrow Songs...

When Poland was fighting for liberation from the Soviet Union, jazz, an art born out of American Apartheid, was being played...

During the Civil Rights Movement White folks were doing the twist, in the 20s they were doing the Charleston, in the 1910s they were doing the fox trot and at the turn of last century they were doing the cakewalk, all are products of the Black experience...

My hero and the subject of my first book James Reese Europe a.k.a. The Jazz Lieutenant used music to keep his men from getting lynched in Spartanburg, SC at a time when Black people were getting lynched every day and a half in this country...Some victims were even in full military uniform...He also used it to spread goodwill, joy and love throughout continental Europe after the brutal destruction of World War One...

We are a Blues People...

When you all get some time really listen to some Duke Ellington...Duke was a historian who used the gift of song to record and preserve the history of Black People in the African Diaspora...

My small salute to Black History Month...
Bro. Ron a.k.a. R2C2H2 Tha Artivist

Philharmonic Stirs Emotions in North Korea

Lorin Maazel conducting the New York Philharmonic at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday.

February 27, 2008
By DANIEL J. WAKIN of The New York Times

PYONGYANG, North Korea — As the New York Philharmonic sang out the opening notes of “Arirang,” a beloved Korean folk song, a murmur rippled through the audience. Many in the audience perched forward in their seats.

The piccolo played a long, plaintive melody. Cymbals crashed, harp runs flew up, the violins soared. And tears began forming in the eyes of the staid audience, row upon row of men in dark suits, women in colorful high-waisted hanbok dresses and all of them wearing pins of Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder.

And right there, the Philharmonic had them. The full-throated performance of a piece deeply resonant for both North and South Koreans ended the orchestra’s historic concert in this isolated nation on Tuesday in triumph.

The audience applauded for more than five minutes, and orchestra members, some of them crying, waved. People in the seats cheered and waved back, reluctant to let the visiting Americans leave.

“Was that an emotional experience!” said Jon Deak, a bass player, backstage moments after the concert had ended. “It’s an incredible joy and sadness and connection like I’ve never seen. They really opened their hearts to us.”

The “Arirang” rendition also proved moving for the orchestra’s eight members of Korean origin. “It brought tears to my eyes,” said Michelle Kim, a violinist whose parents moved from the north to Seoul during the war.

The piece was part of a program carefully constructed to showcase the orchestra and its tradition. A State Department official who accompanied Zarin Mehta, the orchestra’s president, on a planning trip to Pyongyang last year suggested that “Arirang” be played, Mr. Mehta said.

The emotional setting took a turn away from the political theme that had dominated the visit, which began on Monday and ends on Wednesday, when the orchestra flies to Seoul for a concert.

It was the first time an American cultural organization had appeared here, and the largest contingent of United States citizens to appear since the Korean War. The trip has been suffused with political importance since North Korea’s invitation came to light last year. It was seen by some as an opening for warmer relations with the United States, which North Korea has long reviled.

The concert brought a “whole new dimension from what we expected,” Mr. Maazel told reporters afterward. “We just went out and did our thing, and we began to feel this warmth coming back.”

He suggested there would be a bigger impact. “I think it’s going to do a great deal,” he said. “I was told 200 million people were watching. That’s important for the people who want relations to improve.” The concert was broadcast live in many nations, as well as in North Korea.

“If it does come to be seen in retrospect as a historical moment,” he added, “we will all be very proud.”

Still, there was little indication that the good will generated by the visit will affect a critical issue: North Korea’s nuclear program, and efforts to determine the extent of it.

It did not appear that the country’s leader, Kim Jong-il, was present. High-ranking officials did attend, including the vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the vice culture minister and the chairman of the Pyongyang People’s Committee, akin to mayor.

In Washington, on Tuesday, the White House played down the significance of the concert, while criticizing the North for failing to meet its commitments to disarm. Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, said the performance neither hurt nor helped American diplomatic efforts.

“At the end of the day, we consider this concert to be a concert,” Ms. Perino said, “and it’s not a diplomatic, you know, coup.”

At the outset, the sound of the American national anthem on the stage of the East Pyongyang Grand Theater was striking. The North Korean anthem came first, and the audience stood for both. The flags of both countries flanked the stage, which was separated from the audience by a bank of flowers. The players moved on to the prelude to Act III of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” and Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony.”

Then Mr. Maazel introduced the next work, Gershwin’s “American in Paris.” “Someday a composer may write a work titled ‘Americans in Pyongyang,’ ” he said. In Korean, he added, “Enjoy!” The audience, mostly stony-faced until now, grew slightly more animated.

For an encore, Mr. Maazel introduced Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture, which the orchestra played conductorless, in homage to Bernstein, a former Philharmonic music director. “Just imagine Mr. Bernstein coming back,” Mr. Maazel told the audience.

The hall, brightly lighted for a television production, had a gradually raked floor and balconies in the flat rear wall. Wood paneling formed an acoustic shell on the stage, and the sound was remarkably good. The seats were lime-green chairs with arms.

The concert evoked other orchestra missions to repressive states, like the Boston Symphony Orchestra visit to the Soviet Union in 1956, followed soon after by a Philharmonic visit, and the Philadelphia Orchestra trip to China in 1973.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Mr. Maazel, drew a distinction between Tuesday night’s concert and the Philharmonic’s visit to the Soviet Union.

“It showed Soviet citizens that they could have relations with foreign organizations and these organizations could come in the country freely,” he said. “But what the Soviets didn’t realize was this was a two-edged sword.” The visit also meant that “people in power would be out of power,” particularly in a superpower that was a “global threat.”

“The Korean peninsula is a very small area geographically,” Mr. Maazel said, “and has an entirely different role to play in the course of human events.” Drawing a parallel, he added, “would do a disservice to the people who live here and are trying to do their art and make a better world for themselves and all of us.”

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting from Washington.

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