North Korea's National Orchestra Planning to Come to the US

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: Americans may soon get to hear the sounds of the National Orchestra of North Korea. There's news today that the orchestra from Pyongyang might tour the United States sometime this Spring. If it does happen, it'll be historic, but apparently there are a few gazillion details to work out first. Carol Hills is following the story. How likely is this tour to happen?

Carol Hills: I think it's pretty likely. The group that's organizing it is called "Global Resource Services". They're a humanitarian group based in Atlanta, and they say this tour could happen as early as April. The tour would start in Atlanta, where this organization is based, and then go around to seven North American cities. The main detail seems to be getting visas issues from the U.S. to the musicians from North Korea. That seems to be the hold-up.

Mullins: And this group itself, what's its tie to North Korea?

Hills: Well the group Global Resource Services, they're actually a small humanitarian group which has a long history in North Korea. They do a lot around food security and education, and they do a lot with, actually, cultural exchanges. In the past 14 years, they've sent three different American music groups to North Korea. One was a contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns, they've been there twice. They actually won a Grammy in 2006. And another interesting thing is that last summer, they actually brought over the conductor of North Korea's National Orchestra. This is the same guy who will conduct if the group comes over, which I think it probably will.

Mullins: So they brought him here to the States?

Hills: He was here as part of a cultural exchange, and they're saying that this visit by the National Orchestra is, sort of, a reciprocal arrangement for these other groups going to North Korea to perform.

Mullins: Actually, it seems to fit also into other cultural exchanges with North Korea. The New York Philharmonic perhaps being the most prominent, when they performed in Pyongyang back in 2008.

Hills: Absolutely. And just last week, we had a South Korean conductor with a North Korean orchestra, not the National Orchestra, but another one, and they were performing in France. So this seems to be fertile ground, this kind of music diplomacy.

Mullins: That was Carol Hills, following the news about North Korea's National Orchestra potentially touring the United States this Spring. Thank you, Carol.

Hills: You're welcome, Lisa.