glyph 203: music . civilization . harmony ... Daniel Barenboim, Edward Said, collaboration . Israel, Palestine . Arabs, Israelis ... Argentina ... common language ... unity of all explorers ... private diplomacy, weaving of networks ... Seville, Spain ... Yo-Yo Ma ... symphony orchestra . Barenboim-Said Foundation ... Daniel Barenboim's web journal ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's collection of poems entitled 'West-Eastern Divan was inspiration (see the page)


West-Eastern Divan Workshop and Orchestra

Arab-Israeli Symphony Orchestra

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In the early 1990s, a chance meeting between Mr. Barenboim and the late Palestinian-born writer and Columbia University professor Edward Said in a London hotel lobby led to an intensive friendship that has had both political and musical repercussions. These two men, who should have been poles apart politically, discovered in that first meeting, which lasted for hours, that they had similar visions of Israeli/Palestinian possible future cooperation. They decided to continue their dialogue and to collaborate on musical events to further their shared vision of peaceful co-existence in the Middle East. This led to Mr. Barenboim's first concert on the West Bank, a piano recital at the Palestinian Birzeit University in February 1999, and to a workshop for young musicians from the Middle East that took place in Weimar, Germany, in August 1999.

The West-Eastern Divan Workshop took two years to organize and involved talented young musicians between the ages of 14 and 25 from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Israel. The idea was that they would come together to make music on neutral ground with the guidance of some of the world's best musicians. Weimar was chosen as the site for the workshop because of its rich cultural tradition of writers, poets, musicians and creative artists and because it was the 1999 European cultural capital. Mr. Barenboim wisely chose two concertmasters for the orchestra, an Israeli and a Lebanese. There were some tense moments among the young players at first but, coached by members of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Staatskapelle Berlin, and following master classes with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and nightly cultural discussions with Mr. Said and Mr. Barenboim, the young musicians worked and played in increasing harmony. The West-Eastern Divan Workshop was held again in Weimar in the summer of 2000 and in Chicago in the summer of 2001. It has since found a permanent home in Seville, Spain, where it has been based since 2002.

Edward Said passed away in 2003 but his partnership with Daniel Barenboim lives on through the West-Eastern Divan Workshop and Orchestra and through the Barenboim-Said Foundation, which promotes music and co-operation through projects targeted at young Arabs and Israelis.

The cover story for "The Gramaphone" September 2005 was: "Barenboim, A New Chapter Begins: A striking debut disk of Verdi, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky from his young Arab-Israeli orchestra."

Medici.TV - the origins of West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

The Explorers Foundation Glyphery is a collection containing indications of things that have to do with the emergence of a world fit for explorers, and of a people fit to inhabit such a world. We call this the emergence of freeorder. We intend that our work and the work of similar ventures will spread a conviction that such a world is the destiny of humanity, one hard fought for by a growing few over centuries. Such conviction will inspire an avalanche of events, in imagination, thought, and action that will make it so.
entered before July 9, 2006; edited/updated September 28, 2020

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