Stage begin 20120314 01.02 s.png

Date: 2012 March 14
Theme: UO concert with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Conductors: Ri Myong-il & Yun Pom-ju of UO, Myung-Whun Chung 정명훈 鄭明勳, the South Korean director of OPRF
Place: Salle Pleyel, Paris
Audience: French
KJI not present
Choir: no
KCNA: http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2012/201203/news15/20120315-10ee.html
Published: http://youtu.be/wH2XhR7TBHk
Comment: Video made by Radio France. Quite good, only a bit dark

There exist also spectator photos, videos and comments in Korean by Parismadame in a blog post in the frustrating daum.net http://blog.daum.net/parismadame/8792540 I have taken from there one small historical detail of a photo

Salle Pleyen ad 20120314 s

Salle Pleyel ad 20120314

This was another high point in the career of UO. The trip abroad had been arranged already by KJI. It was a nice diplomatic move, which once again lead to nothing, as it was followed by nothing. KJI’s international cultural diplomacy towards Russia, China and Europe lost its energy after his death.

The actual initiator and organizer of the visit had actually been the South Korean conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, Chun Myung-Whun.

UO 20120308 rehearsing 3 Chung Myung-whun s

Chun Myung-Whun 정명훈 鄭明勳

In an interview by Agence Presse in Paris he said: “My first wish was to do a joint North-South Korean project. But that is politically not possible right now. Right at this moment they cannot accept it and they consider the situation politically too blocked and too frozen. Still, under those circumstances for them to allow us to do this on both sides, is I think almost ideal because in many cases when you have a conflict even within a family it helps to have a third party act as kind of a mediator, so that is what France is doing.”

However, for the North Koreans the main diplomatic target seems to have been France and perhaps the West in general, not South Korea as such. In another interview by AP in Pyongyang when UO was leaving the country Song Mi Ran, a representative of the Rodong Sinmun,

UO 20120308 leaving to France 6 Song Mi Ran s

Song Mi Ran

told that “30 years ago the Mansudae Art Troupe visited France and staged colourful performances. That introduced the French people to an understanding of the music of Korea and I think that they became familiar with people from Korea. This time, the Unhasu Orchestra is one of North Korea’s top artistic groups, and I expect if we go to France, and play joint orchestral performances, then the French people could have a new impression of colourful culture from the East.”

A group photo was taken of the orchestra at the airport. Only musicians are there; singers did not go to Paris.

UO 20120308 leaving to France 1 s

The photo shows 54 musicians, while AP informs that the whole group consisted of 80 people. That would imply c. 25 government officials and Rodong Sinmun personnel accompanying the orchestra. They left in the evening of Friday 9 March, a day after the previous concert. During the trip Unhasu Orchestra was not led by its usual leader Jang Jo-il, who remained in Pyongyang Airport waving good bye to the ensemble together with Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department Kim Ki-nam and novelist An Tong Chun, the minister of culture.

UO 20120308 leaving to France 4 s

Kim Ki-nam 김기남 金起南, Jang Jo-il 장조일  & An Tong Chun 안동춘 + two unknown men

UO 20120308 leaving to France 5 s

The whole group was lead by the KWP Central Committee Vice Director Kwon Hyok Bong, who was introduced as “advisor to the Korean Traditional Music Institute”. He was an experienced tour leader, having supervised the travels and performances of the Sea of Blood Opera Troupe (피바다가극단 Phipada kagŭkdan 血の海歌劇団 血海歌剧团) in China for most of its tournee from October 2011 to January 2012. Also he gave a short interview to AP in Paris in Tuesday 13 March

UO 20120308 rehearsing 2 Kwon Hyok-bong s

Kwon Hyok Bong 권혁봉 權赫峰

saying: “This joint concert is a historical event for the bilateral relations of our two countries [France and North Korea]. I hope the journalists present here will encourage it.” Also in his words the main target of the cultural diplomatic offensive was France. If the group members arrived in Paris in Saturday, they had Sunday and Monday for resting and perhaps some sight seeing. In Tuesday they had a whole day rehearsal with the OPRF.

UO 20120308 rehearsing 1 s

Rehearsing; UO concert master Mun Kyong-jin 문경진 in the middle.

The last rehearsal was made in daytime in Wednesday 14 March; from that event AP chose to publish a photo of Kim Yong-mi.


Kim Yong-mi 김영미 in Paris

In the evening came there finally the time to start the performance – after eight minutes of waiting and speeches. The French slow use of time was rather different from the rapid North Korean style of action.

Part I Unhasu Orchestra
01.58 Speech by Jean-Luc Hees, Director of Radio France
04.34 Speech by Frédéric Mitterand, Minister of Culture
07.45 Conductor Yun Pom Ju arrives

Stage begin 20120314 07.59 s

08.13 그네뛰는 처녀 Kŭnetwinŭn chŏnyŏ Girl on the swing ぶらんこに乗る乙女
The song appears to have been created in the 1950s as a folk song by an anonymous composer, and later orchestrated by Jang Jo-il, the director of Unhasu Orchestra who stayed home.

Yun Pom-ju 20120314 08.42

Yun Pom-ju 윤범주

Flutist 20120314 10.31 s

Unknown flutist

14.06 Nam Un Ha, sohegum, and Jo Ok Ju, kayagum, arrive.

14.54 비날론 삼천리 Pinallon samchŏlli 3000 li of vinalon ビナロン三千里
Composition: An Jong-ho 안정호, lyrics: Yun Du-gun 윤두근, 2010
kayagum & sohegum Jo Ok-ju & Nam Un-ha

Jo & Nam 20120314 15.34 s

Jo Ok-ju 조옥주 & Nam Un-ha 남운하

20.55 Viulist Mun Kyong-jin 문경진, Yun Pom-ju and half of the orchestra leave the stage. While Mun is away, second violin Kim Su-myong 김수명 becomes the deputy concert master.

21.50 Conductor Ri Myong Il arrives

Ri Myong Il 20120314 21.59 s

Ri Myong-il 리명일

22.17 매혹 Mehok Attraction 魅惑
Composition: Hwang Jin-yong 황진영, lyrics: Jon Tong-u 전동우, 1993

26.59 Ri brings Mun Kyong-jin back to stage. In Pyongyang musicians were only seldom given special attention, excepting sometimes trombone or piano. Thus far the concert master Mun had simply sat on his chair through all concerts, but for Paris he was chosen to perform as the solist hero of Unhasu Orchestra. He was up to the task.

Mun Kyong-jin 문경진 20120314 27.22 s

Mun Kyong-jin 문경진

27.36 론도 까쁘리치오 Rondo kappŭrichio Introduction et rondo capriccioso pour violon et orchestre 序奏とロンド・カプリチオーソ
Camille Saint-Saens, 1863
Solist: Mun Kyong-jin 문경진
Applauses after his performance were long and profuse, and he was called to give une autre

Mun Kyong-jin 문경진 20120314 38.30 s

38.25 닐리리야 Nilliriya Traditionalist Korean song, no exact meaning ニッリリヤ
Composer: Jang Sa-in 정사인 鄭士仁, date unknown.

Mun Kyong-jin 문경진 20120314 39.09 s

Jong Son-yong + 20120314 41.00 s (1)

Other musicians listen.

41.40 Conductor Yun Pom Ju’s turn again, also the rest of the orchestra returns

41.50 신아우 Sinau Sinau 新アウ
편곡 : 인민예술가 구승해 = Traditional folk music transmitted through oral tradition – as told in the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble CD vol. 138.

Harpist 20120314 24.38 s

Unknown harpist

47.00 Break, 24 minutes

Part II Both orchestras play together
01.11. 23 Conductor Myung-whun Chung 정명훈 鄭明勳 arrives

01.12.00 브람스협주곡 9번 1, 2, 3, 4악장 Buramsu hyŏpjugok 9 pŏn 1, 2, 3, 4 akjang ブラームス「協奏曲第9番」 Johannes Brahms Symphonie N°1 en ut mineur Op.68, 1876;
KCNA and French Radio disagree on which musical number it was, but anyway the orchestras played well together without problems. Brahms is supposed to have made only four symphonies and four concertos. http://www.johannesbrahms.org/JBlist.htm

02.00.50 Ceremonial movements, lots of them.

02.08.10 아리랑 Arirang Arirang アリラン
Common North-South music. The only time UO played the most common variant of this song.

02.14.15 Ceremonial movements

02.17.05 카르멘 조곡 Kharŭmen jogok 闘牛士の歌(カルメン組曲)
= Carmen suite No. 1, Les Toréadors part 6
Georges Bizet, 1875

02.19.10 Ending rituals. South-North successful cooperation.

North-South hugs 20120314 02.20.31 sNorth-South hugs 20120314 02.20.47 s

This could have gone on, in France and elsewhere. It did not.