Maestro Chung Myung-whun speaks during a press conference on his recent visit to North Korea at the rehearsal room of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in Sejong-no, central Seoul, Friday. Chung said he has agreed with the North’s musicians to hold cultural exchanges. / Yonhap
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Maestro Chung Myung-whun tentatively agreed with North Korean artists to create a joint symphony orchestra and hold regular performances in the two Koreas.
Chung, the music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) and a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, visited Pyongyang for four days to promote cultural exchanges, returning home Thursday.
"No one will disturb those who want to keep in close touch in a humane way. I wanted artistic exchange between the two sides throughout my life and I am grateful that I have an opportunity to do so," Chung said during a press conference Friday.
The orchestra will be composed of an equal number of musicians from the South and North. "Personally, I want the joint orchestra to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 'Choral,' in Seoul and Pyongyang, at the end of the year," Chung said.
Chung added that he is not sure about the possibility of the joint orchestra from a political viewpoint. "I had cultural exchanges with North Korean musicians and they agreed on the joint project in a musical way," he said. "However, I did not hear oppositions from the (South) Korean government and thus will push the project with hope."
During the visit, he met members of the North Korean State Symphony Orchestra (NKSSO) and the Unhasu Orchestra and conducted rehearsals of them. He also attended auditions of seven musicians and watched a performance of the NKSSO. Chung was accompanied by Kim Joo-ho, CEO of the SPO.
"I attended rehearsals for about seven hours. The quality of North Korean musicians is high in terms of technique," he said. "Next year, I'd like to gather the North’s young artists and practice and perform together with them for about ten days or two weeks, not just one or two days."
The SPO emphasized that Chung’s visit was purely a cultural exchange so the conductor did not meet any high-level North Korean officials.