local connection to nyphil pyongyang visit

Many of you may be unaware that Oregon Symphony violinist Elena Hirsu’s father Valentin is a cellist with the New York Phiharmonic. He is profiled in today’s New York Times while the orchestra is visiting North Korea. He was asking for information from North Korean musicians as to the whereabouts of several orphaned North Korean refugee musicians whom he knew from music school in Bucharest, Romania, over 50 years ago, and who were later returned back to North Korea after the Korean War.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — For much of his 60 years, Valentin Hirsu has thought of those three Korean boys in his class.

It was at Music School No. 1 in Bucharest, Romania. The boys were North Korean orphans from the war that had torn up their country. One played piano, another clarinet, the third flute.

After about six years, they were taken home.

Mr. Hirsu never heard from them again. Now, in Pyongyang as a cellist with the visiting New York Philharmonic, he is asking about their fate.

“It’s a crime not to look for them if I’ll be there,” he said on the eve of the orchestra’s departure from Beijing. “I don’t know if they are alive or minister of culture. How am I supposed to know?” he said.

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