NY orchestra to play in N Korea

Concert to take place despite the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

    It is not known whether Kim, North Korea's  leader, will attend the concert in Pyongyang [Reuters]

    The philharmonic arrived in Pyongyang on a South Korean chartered flight from Beijing, where the group, led by conductor Lorin Maazel, was greeted at the airport by North Korea's vice-culture minister.


    The concert will reportedy include Antonin Dvorak's "New World" symphony and George Gershwin's "An American in Paris".

    'Right decision'
    Maazel said that despite the trip's political issues he felt it was the right decision to go ahead with the concert.


    "I think it would have been a great mistake not to accept their
    invitation,'' Maazel was quoted by Reuters as saying after the group's arrival


    Philharmonic officials Paul Guenther and Zarin
    Mehta are leading the US delegation [EPA]

    "I am a musician and not a politician. Music has always traditionally been an arena, an area where people make contact. It's neutral, it's entertainment, it's person to person."


    However, other

    musicians expressed concern that the visit would merely be used for propaganda purposes by both sides.


    "There are a lot of us who are not buying into this party line that music transcends the political and we are opening up North Korea with a single concert," Dawn Hannay, a violinist, told the New York Times.


    "I'm sure it will be used by Pyongyang and our own government in attempting to make political points."


    Rice in Seoul


    The visit coincides with a trip by Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to South Korea where she attended Monday's inauguration of the country's new president, Lee Myung-bak.


    North Korea, which tested a small nuclear device in 2006, is in the process of disabling its main nuclear facilities under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament agreement with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US.

    However, talks stalled after the US said North Korea had missed a 2007 deadline to produce a complete list of its nuclear programmes, which Pyongyang said it had already done in November.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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