February 20, 2008 / 12:21 AM / 10 years ago

NY concert to be broadcast to all North Korea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A concert by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea next week that officials say could break cultural boundaries and draw the two countries closer will be broadcast throughout the reclusive Communist state.

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Pak Gil Yon appears at a news conference at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York December 11, 2007, where it was announced that The New York Philharmonic had accepted an invitation by the North Korean Government to perform a concert in the capitol of Pyongyang on February, 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The concert, to be held in Pyongyang on February 26, will be the centerpiece of a two-day visit and broadcast live by Korean Central Television, the orchestra said on Tuesday. It will also be broadcast internationally.

“A wide distribution of the concert within the country has been a central element of our agreement to perform in Pyongyang from the start,” Zarin Mehta, president and executive director of the orchestra, said in a statement.

The concert will include George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From The New World.” Both the U.S. and North Korean national anthems will also be played by the United States’ oldest symphony orchestra.

The United States and North Korea are formally in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce that has not been replaced by a peace agreement. But they are engaged in a diplomatic process that could lead to the normalization of ties.

After years of talks, North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, agreed in February to disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives.

But the deal stalled after Pyongyang said it wants more energy aid and diplomatic concessions before it fulfills its pledge to fully disable its Yongbyon nuclear site and declare all nuclear activities. Envoys from both countries met in Beijing on Tuesday in a bid to move the agreement forward.

Critics have questioned the appropriateness of the Philharmonic’s visit to North Korea, whose government Washington considers one of the world’s most repressive.

The New York Philharmonic, founded in 1842, has performed in at least 418 cities worldwide since 1930.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Patricia Zengerle

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