Sunday, August 20, 2006

In Lieu Of Blood-Sport: Where Jews, Muslims, And Christians Once Lived In Peaceful Harmony, Young Classical Musicians Now Court Peace

"IT was an immensely appealing experiment, both in its idealism and in its simplicity: Let young Israeli and Arab musicians play together in an orchestra to show that communication and cooperation were possible between peoples who had long fought each other.

The two men behind the idea had themselves made something of the same journey. The Argentine-born Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said met in 1993 and, though they were not always in agreement, they forged a deep friendship.

It undoubtedly helped that both lived outside the Middle East. Mr. Barenboim’s bases then were Chicago and Berlin, while Mr. Said taught at Columbia University in New York. And it certainly helped that Mr. Barenboim had been outspoken in his criticism of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank since 1967. But most crucial, both believed in the futility of violence, and in the power of music to move the human spirit.

So in August 1999, six months after Mr. Barenboim had given his first piano recital in the West Bank, he and Mr. Said invited 78 Israeli and Arab musicians from 18 to 25 years old to Weimar, Germany. There, for three weeks, Mr. Barenboim, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and other teachers gave master classes and individual lessons. And in the evenings Mr. Said led debates about politics as well as music.

By the end of the workshop Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Egyptians had learned to play together and live together, and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra was born. (It took its name from a collection of poems by Goethe, inspired by the 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz.) Since then, the orchestra has studied and toured under Mr. Barenboim’s guidance and baton every summer." ...

Alan Riding "Music: Harmony Across a Divide" New York Times August 20, 2006

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra opened its 2006 tour earlier this month with the first classical concert ever to be performed at the bullring in Seville, Spain.

Photo and caption credit: Tom Fecht via The New York Times, August 20, 2006. With thanks.


Blogger hans said...

hi i enjoy very much. thanks .
iranian poet Hafiz is best. he was wonderfull!

1:34 PM  
Blogger hans said...

i enjoy very much. thanks.
iranian poet Hafiz is best. he was wonderfull!

1:39 PM  

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