Charles Dutoit, chief conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, helms the ensemble in thus file photo. The 75-year-old Swiss maestro has worked closely with young Korean musicians over the years, and is visiting Pyongyang in hopes to create an inter-Korean orchestra. / Korea Times
By Lee Hyo-won
In 1999, Daniel Barenboim made waves by establishing an orchestra comprised of youths from Israel and Palestine.
Maestro Charles Dutoit is pursuing a similar peace-making project for the divided Koreas and is currently negotiating the launch of an inter-Korean orchestra with North Korean officials, said organizers. .
The 75-year-old Swiss conductor left for North Korea on Monday with violinist Chantal Juillet for a five-day stay until Saturday, said Lindenbaum Music. The two were officially invited by Pyongyang’s Korea Performing Arts Exchange Association.
The musicians will discuss prospects of creating an ensemble made up of young artists from the two Koreas. Foreign artists that previously took part in the Lindenbaum Music Festival in Seoul are also expected to play with the orchestra if the project is finalized.
The Lindenbaum Music Festival kicked off here in 2009 as an arts education initiative. Local children chosen through an audition take part in orchestral music-making under the baton of famed artists, and Dutoit has joined the occasion every summer as its music director.
The inter-Korean orchestra project is propelled by a non-political, peace-making plan, Won Hyung -joon, the executive director of Lindenbaum, told The Korea Times, Tuesday, over the phone.
“We have been pursuing the project since last year but it was put on hold following the Cheonan and Yeongpyeong Island incidents. Today tensions between North and South Koreas are high, but this is a non-political agenda that can unite adolescents from the two Koreas in peaceful, musical harmony,” said Won.
He added that the orchestra project would not stop short of being a one-time event and hopes to become a long-term one.
The Swiss government also supports Dutoit’s efforts.
“We consider this as an important initiative as music has often proven to be a useful bridge to a closer mutual understanding... The Swiss government is willing to support (these) efforts,” Thomas Kupfer, the Swiss ambassador to Seoul, said in a statement.