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The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Berliner Waldbühne

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Demetrius Chryssikos
Demetrius Chryssikos
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is a youth orchestra based in Seville, Spain, consisting of musicians from countries in the Middle East, of Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Spanish background. The Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said founded the orchestra in 1999, and named the ensemble after an anthology of poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The first orchestra workshop was in Weimar, Germany, in 1999, after the organisation had received over 200 applications from Arab music students. Daniel Barenboim has also expressed interest in musicians from Iran (a non-Arab country but in conflict with Israel) and three Iranian musicians are to play in the orchestra each year.
The aim of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Barenboim himself has spoken of the ensemble as follows:
"The Divan is not a love story, and it is not a peace story. It has very flatteringly been described as a project for peace. It isn't. It's not going to bring peace, whether you play well or not so well. The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance. A project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it. I'm not trying to convert the Arab members of the Divan to the Israeli point of view, and [I'm] not trying to convince the Israelis to the Arab point of view. But I want to - and unfortunately I am alone in this now that Edward died a few years ago - ...create a platform where the two sides can disagree and not resort to knives."
3 years ago.