[Slowhand] Mayall fought them, but will Clapton entertain them

John Mills turbineltd at btconnect.com
Tue Feb 26 03:33:07 EST 2008

N Korea strikes chord with Clapton invite
By Anna Fifield in Pyongyang

Published: February 25 2008 22:08 | Last updated: February 25 2008 22:08


North Korea has invited Eric Clapton to perform in Pyongyang in a highly
unusual move that could see the English guitarist playing in the world's
most isolated state next year.

The invitation will boost hopes that North Korea is growing more interested
in building cultural bridges to the outside world, even as diplomatic
negotiations over its nuclear programme stall.

The New York Philharmonic will perform in Pyongyang on Monday night. The
North Korean State Symphony Orchestra plans to perform in London this

Pyongyang has invited Mr Clapton, whose hits include "Cocaine" and "Tears in
Heaven", as a reciprocal visit for the North Korean orchestra tour, the
Financial Times has learnt.

"These cultural exchanges are a way of promoting understanding between
countries," a North Korean official told the FT. "We want our music to be
understood by the western world and we want our people to understand western

Mr Clapton had agreed "in principle" to the idea, suggesting 2009 for the
concert, the official said. Mr Clapton's agent did not return calls asking
for comment.

A performance by Mr Clapton would be notable because, while classical music
is well known in North Korea, rock and pop are banned because of their
strong western influences.

Diplomats say the visit of the New York Philharmonic does not necessarily
signal the start of a wider thaw in animosity. It is the biggest US
delegation to visit Pyongyang since the Korean War almost 60 years ago.

Suzannah Clarke, the London-based opera singer who has performed in North
Korea for each of the past five years, said she sensed a change was

"When I sang in Pyongyang last April, I felt a change in atmosphere and in
the way they view the outside world," she said.

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