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.

Joy in the Congo: The Inspiring Story of the Only Symphony Orchestra in Central Africa

Did you know that the only sym­pho­ny orches­tra in Cen­tral Africa is locat­ed in Kin­shasa, the cap­i­tal of the Con­go — a war-torn coun­try plagued by pover­ty and despair? This short film (tran­script here) tells the amaz­ing sto­ry of the Sym­phon­ic Orches­tra Kim­ban­guiste (page in French), reveal­ing the dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances under which the 200 musi­cians labor: they come from all over the city; most trav­el on foot to get to rehearsals six days a week; and the bulk of the instru­ments have been donat­ed, sal­vaged and repaired or pur­chased from sec­ond-hand shops. Despite all of these dif­fi­cul­ties, the orches­tra man­ages to make the most beau­ti­ful music: lis­ten to Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube Waltz (An der schö­nen blauen Donau).

This is not the first doc­u­men­tary about this out­stand­ing orches­tra. In 2010, a team of Ger­man film­mak­ers released a 95-minute film called Kin­shasa Sym­pho­ny (trail­er). Also, Le Figaro has an arrest­ing pho­to essay about the musi­cians.

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.

Ravel’s Bolero

Here we have Daniel Baren­boim, the Argen­tin­ian con­duc­tor, lead­ing the Berlin Phil­har­mon­ic at Wald­buhne in Berlin, 1998. The clip is already push­ing 1,000,000 views on YouTube. Part 1 is above. And Part 2 (already over 1 mil­lion views) is here. You can find a released record­ing on Ama­zon as well.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.