In November 2012, the Munich Chamber Orchestra and its conductor Alexander Liebreich had the rare chance to travel to Pyongyang to work with the students of the local Kim Won Gyun Conservatory. The Goethe Institut Korea arranged the visit and invited German filmmaker Nils Clauss to shoot a documentary about this moment of cross-cultural musical cooperation. Joint orchestra rehearsals were held, but the German musicians also conducted one-on-one chamber music classes with the North Korean students. At the end of their visit, the German-Korean ensemble performed a concert at the conservatory.
Nils Clauss’s documentary shows in a beautiful and unobtrusive way how musicians from two very different worlds quickly overcame the language barriers and let only the music speak. Alexander Liebreich described in an interview with the BBC how much had changed since his last visit to North Korea in 2002.
You can enjoy parts of the final concert here:
- Arirang, a Korean folk song
- Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major, First Movement (Moderato) with soloist Trey Lee
Plus find bonus material here:
- The Atlantic’s latest photo essay on life in North Korea
- This little North Korean girl can play the guitar better than you.
By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.