On special invitation, four Bulloch County men will travel to Pyongyang, North Korea next month to perform in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea during their Spring Arts Festival.
Bill Coen, David Brinson, Paul Moller and Jay Stansbury , members of “Sons of Jubal,” an 150-member all male chorus and orchestra based in Atlanta, plan to leave April 10, Coen said. They will return after a five-day visit.
Sons of Jubal will be one of the largest musical groups of Americans ever to enter the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said Eddy Oliver, communications director for the group.
The Sons of Jubal was founded in 1954 and consists of volunteer professional musicians, church musicians, educators, and institutional leaders from all across the state of Georgia, he said.
The group was invited to attend and perform during the festival by Korean officials who heard Sons of Jubal at Stone Mountain a few years ago, according to Coen.
“We’ve been working on this for two years,” he said. “We’re not going as a religious group – we’re going to represent the USA.”
Oliver said Global Resource Services, Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit, non-governmental organization, is coordinating the cultural exchange through its “Advocacy for the Arts” program to provide opportunities to promote goodwill and reconciliation.
The group previously sent three other groups to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the Grammy award winning group, Casting Crowns.
“We are excited that this opportunity has come after a decade and a half of experience in DPRK-United States musical exchanges,” said Robert Springs, GRS president.
“The Sons of Jubal will also have performances in Beijing, China, which will include a brass choir, hand bell choir, and vocal ensemble,” Oliver said. The group has performed in Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Moldova, the Czech Republic, and Russia as well as in many cities across the United States.
Coen said the group has been “working with the state department a long time” to facilitate the trip. “We’ve had (Korean performers) over here, and we’re going over there. We have been working with (Korean officials) for about 15 years (on various projects.)
Traveling to North Korea is not something that is done on a whim. “The average person cannot just go to North Korea,” he said. “But we were invited by North Korea.”
He said the group will perform lots of show tunes, as those are popular in North Korea. Also, they will perform a variety of other music.
The Sons of Jubal performs an extensive repertoire in the classics, Broadway show tunes, spirituals, and contemporary genres, Oliver said.
Coen and Brinson are members of Statesboro’s First Baptist Church. Moller is a Statesboro resident but a member of First Baptist Church on Augusta. Stansbury is a member of Portal Baptist Church.
Other area members of The Sons of Jubal are David Wilson, First Baptist Sylvania; Gilbert Westbury, First Baptist Swainsboro; and Chuck Jonas, First Baptist Reidsville.
Holli Deal Brag may be reached at (912) 489-9414.