For 15 Years now, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has been a significant presence in the international music world. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said created a workshop for young musicians from Israel, Palestine ...
For 15 Years now, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has been a significant presence in the international music world. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said created a workshop for young musicians from Israel, Palestine and several Arab countries to promote coexistence and intercultural dialogue. They named the orchestra after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s collection of poems entitled “West-Eastern Divan”, a central work for the development of the concept of world culture.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s first sessions took place in Weimar and Chicago. In 2002, it found a permanent home in Seville, Spain, where it is generously supported by the regional government of Andalusia (Junta de Andalucía). An equal number of Israeli and Arab musicians form the base of the orchestra, together with a group of Spanish members. They meet each summer in Seville for a workshop, where rehearsals are complemented by lectures and discussions and followed by an international concert tour.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has proved time and again that music can break down barriers previously considered insurmountable. The only political aspect that prevails in the work of the WEDO is the conviction that there is no military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that the destinies of Israelis and Palestinians are inextricably linked. Through its work and existence the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra demonstrates that bridges can be built to encourage people to listen to the narrative of the other.
While music alone cannot resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it grants the individual the right and obligation to express himself fully while listening to his neighbour. Based on this notion of equality, co-operation and justice for all, the orchestra represents an alternative model to the current situation in the Middle East.
The orchestra is also a platform for the encounter between the world religions connected by the role of Israel and Palestine as a place of particular spiritual significance. Besides Jews and Muslims, its members include Christians from Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox congregations to which a significant minority of Arabs belong.
The Orchestra’s repertoire expands beyond symphonic works to opera and chamber music performances. Concert highlights have included performances at the Berliner Philharmonie, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Musikverein in Vienna, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, the Hagia Eirene Museum in Istanbul, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Plaza Mayor in Madrid and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as well as a concert in honour of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York in December 2006. The orchestra is a regular guest at the BBC Proms and festivals such as Salzburg or Lucerne.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has released a number of highly acclaimed CDs/DVDs. These include live recordings of Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 / Verdi: ouverture from La forza del destino / Sibelius: Valse triste (2004); the emblematic concert at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah (2005); Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (2006); Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat / Beethoven: ouverture from Leonore (2007); and Schönberg: Variations for Orchestra / Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (2011); the complete Beethoven symphony cycle (2012). The documentary “Knowledge is the Beginning” by Paul Smaczny has won several awards, among them an International Emmy (2006). Most recently a recording of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique was released in July 2013.
Support the WEDO
An important part of the funds needed to continue the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s unique project is provided by its loyal audiences: All proceeds from the orchestra’s tours are used to realize its vision.
The Orchestra and the projects it supports also rely on the generosity of individuals and corporations to finance many of its activities and scholarships. Please contribute generously.
Donations are fully tax deductible according to German law can be made through the Daniel Barenboim Stiftung online, by wire or check. Partner foundations in the USA, the UK and Spain allow our supporters to take advantage of deductions in these jurisdictions as well. Please see our website (www.west-eastern-divan.org) for details. We would also like to thank the Junta de Andalucía for its continued support.
All funds raised are used to finance the Orchestra workshops and tours, but also to develop various music education projects in the Middle East and beyond. The Edward Said Kindergarten, a joint-venture with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, opened its doors in Ramallah in October 2004. The Barenboim-Said Centre in Ramallah and our partner organizations in Israel and Palestine provide instrumental and singing lessons and organize yearly orchestra workshops; classes are open to all students irrespective of social or ethnic background. Already since 2003, the organization of public concerts in Palestine has been another important area of our activities. The programme so far has included performances by internationally renowned performers such as Daniel Barenboim, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Emmanuel Pahud or András Schiff as well as recitals by teachers, members of the WEDO, and students.
An exciting new project is the foundation of the Barenboim-Said Academy Berlin as a permanent base for all Barenboim-Said projects. At the Academy’s center will be the Pierre Boulez Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry.
Daniel Barenboim Stiftung
Tabaré Perlas, CEO
Tel: +49 30 206 0799-0
Leipziger Strasse 40, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Deutsche Bank, account no. 761892900, BLZ 10070000
IBAN DE 08100700000761892900, BIC DEUTDEBBXXX