Orchestral Manoeuvres in North Korea Prove Yet Again That Music is Universal

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:

Plus find bonus mate­r­i­al here:

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.

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