Making Overtures

Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images

North Korean audience wait for the New York Philharmonic orchestra to play during their inaugural performance in the North Korea capital, Pyongyang on February 26, 2008

The New York Philharmonic (NYP) concert last February at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre — a recording of which has just been released on DVD by Medici Arts — began with a welcome from a comely young North Korean woman in traditional dress. She expressed the hope that the performance would "herald the first step in rapprochement between the two countries," just before the esteemed orchestra entered the stately 2,500-seat auditorium.

Under the baton of Lorin Maazel, the evening's program began with both national anthems and included Dvorak's New...

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