West-Eastern Divan Orchestra continues mission to break down barriers through music

Posted on: November 7, 2018

“The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is dedicated to the idea of breaking down barriers in the Middle East,” writes Michael Cooper in Tuesday’s (11/6) New York Times. “But new barriers … briefly threatened to derail the orchestra’s current [five-city American] tour: Over the summer, it looked as though some musicians might not get visas because they held passports from Syria and Iran, two of the nations named in President Trump’s travel ban. They ended up getting waivers, allowing the tour to go forward.… The project … grew out of a 1999 workshop in Weimar, Germany, that Mr. Barenboim, an Argentine-Israeli, created with his friend [Edward] Said, the Palestinian-American literary scholar, who died in 2003…. The group’s deceptively simple premise—that getting musicians from groups that have been opposed for decades to play together would foster understanding—seems even more ambitious in this polarized age. These musicians from different sides of the Middle East divide are visiting a United States … reeling from the anti-Semitic killing of 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue…. [A Monday concert in Chicago] ended with a rare sight in concert halls: the players hugging one another onstage.”

Posted November 7, 2018