A Fervent Spirit
MALCOLM MILLER muses on the
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra's
recent Beethoven and Boulez cycle in London
The palpable buzz of excitement accompanying the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the climax of their Proms symphonic cycle (20-27 July 2012) under the charismatic command of Daniel Barenboim, their co-founder, highlighted the historic sense of occasion, both musical and symbolic. The symbolism was overtly articulated by Proms Director Roger Wright as connecting Beethoven's vision of universal brotherhood with both a focus on youth -- evident in the plethora of youth orchestra and choirs in this season -- and the Olympic ideals, with Barenboim's participation as one of the Olympic Flag-bearers, just a few hours after accompanying his orchestra to a more than ten-minute standing ovation at London's Royal Albert Hall, reinforcing that connection. Yet those ideals are also embodied in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) itself, which during the thirteen years of its existence has developed both musically and ideologically, achieving a great deal by offering the world a vision of social interaction that radically alters stereotypes. Though by no means the only such project, even within the field of music-making, it is by far the most high-profile of its kind, and largely through the connection with Barenboim himself, as also the power of mediaization, its broadcasts, and audio and video recordings, as well as several books, has and continues to make a significant impact worldwide...
Copyright © 5 September 2012