West-Eastern Divan Orchestra reveals possibilities for the Middle East

Posted on: August 20, 2014

“The Middle East is in flames, and untold thousands have been killed or maimed or displaced,” writes Ivan Hewett in Wednesday’s (8/20) Daily Telegraph (London). “In the midst of all this, to have something appear at the Proms that’s been dubbed ‘An Orchestra for Peace’ seems almost laughably naive. But Daniel Barenboim, who co-founded the orchestra in question, the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, denies that was ever the intention. ‘It’s not an orchestra for peace in that region, because peace requires that the needs of both sides for justice and security are met. Playing Mozart and Wagner cannot give this.’ So what exactly is the point of this orchestra, which brings musicians from Israel together with musicians from Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and the other Arab countries that many Israelis hate and fear? ‘It sprang out of my belief that there can never be a military solution to this conflict,’ says Barenboim.  … ‘This orchestra is like a laboratory, an experiment in two peoples living together in proximity. They are here to do things: make music and learn about the other. … Many people absolutely hate us, in the various countries where our players come from. They think we are traitors to our own people … But we have just as many passionate supporters in those countries, so I think we must be doing something right.’ ”

Posted August 20, 2014