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Beacon of hope

Daniel Barenboim conducts the
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
reviewed by MALCOLM MILLER


Verdi's Force of Destiny overture formed an aptly symbolic choice of encore for the 'LRB Edward Said Memorial Concert' given by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under the charismatic direction of Daniel Barenboim at the Barbican Centre, London, UK, on 4 August 2004. As Barenboim observed eloquently to the vast and varied audience, 'the destinies of the peoples of Israel and Palestine are inextricably linked'. The orchestra of Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian musicians, founded in Weimar in 1999 for the 250th anniversary of Goethe's birth (named after Goethe's famous poem) and which performed at the 2003 BBC Proms, certainly represents a noble pioneering project in multi-culturalism, and testifies to the friendship of the Israeli-Argentinian Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinian-American Edward Said, who died last year. The orchestra was trying to achieve 'an attitude of mind, where what is good for the Israelis is also good for the Palestinians, and what is good for the Palestinians is good for the Israelis', and indeed this concert demonstrated how musical excellence can tangibly galvanise a diverse political group into a harmonious whole. In this sell-out charity concert, sponsored by the London Review of Books to which Said was a frequent contributor, Barenboim himself was the soloist-conductor in a thrilling programme, Beethoven's heroic Piano Concerto No 3 followed by Tchaikovsky's scintillating Fifth Symphony.

Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim


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Copyright © 4 November 2004 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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