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.