N. Korean, French orchestras rehearse for joint concert
PARIS (Yonhap) -- "Tres bien!" "Parfait!"
Renowned South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun repeatedly let out exclamations of delight Tuesday as a North Korean and a French orchestra performed in good harmony at an open rehearsal for their landmark joint concert in Paris.
Pyongyang's Unhasu Orchestra and Radio France Philharmonic will perform together on Wednesday under the baton of the South Korean conductor who organized the event.
"The sound is very good although you practiced for the concert together for just one day," Chung told the orchestras during the rehearsal held before reporters from a score of television stations and newspapers from such countries as France, Japan, China and South Korea.
The maestro asked the French ensemble to heed the delicate sentiment contained in traditional Korean music as it performed a pan-Korean folk song called "Arirang" that will open the concert at Salle Pleyel concert hall.
After arriving here on Saturday (French standard time), the North Korean delegation, including 70 members of the Unhasu Orchestra, toured the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre Museum, according to an official with the French orchestra that invited the North Koreans.
The lead violinist Mun Kyong-jin said he was impressed by the beautiful scenery of Paris.
"The scenery and the streets are very beautiful and old buildings are well preserved," he said through a translator.
"The joint concert is a historical event for the bilateral relations of the two countries," Kwon Hyok-bong, the head of the North Korean delegation, told reporters.
He also expressed hope for a joint concert between orchestras of the two Koreas.
Chung had unsuccessfully pushed for staging an inter-Korean concert due to lingering political tensions over the North's two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.
North Korea and France do not have formal diplomatic relations, but France opened an office in Pyongyang last year to foster cultural exchanges.