Monday, May 02, 2011

A real 'peace concert'

Barenboim is to give a concert in Gaza. Now, that is a real 'concert for peace'. Anyone who thinks that playing in Abu Dhabi or West Jerusalem is actually useful 'for peace' should probably think again. Apart from the plucky young British chamber group Fifth Quadrant, some of whom managed to get into the place a few months ago rather to their own surprise, and violinist/photographer Tom Suarez who produced this devastating book about what he saw when he went there, I don't know many other Western musicians who have the courage to go anywhere near Gaza. At a time when Hamas has just caused considerable anger by condemning the killing of Bin Laden, and when Egypt is planning to open its Rafah crossing with Gaza permanently (a fact that went almost unnoticed as it was announced on the day of the Royal Wedding), there couldn't be a better moment to remind people who have lived effectively under siege for some five years of the spirit, and example, of wisdom, beauty and togetherness that music can bring. I hope it's not too late.

[UPDATE: Here is the account by Simon Hewitt Jones of Fifth Quadrant of his experience visiting Gaza last Christmas.]

Here's the report I just found here...

Barenboim to conduct Gaza 'peace concert' on May 3

Daniel Barenboim is an outspoken proponent of peace between Israel and the Palestinians
Renowned Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim is to conduct an orchestra of European musicians in a "peace concert" in Gaza City on Tuesday, a United Nations agency said.
The rare concert, which will take place at lunchtime at the Al-Mathaf Cultural House, was announced in a statement by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO) on Monday.
Barenboim, an outspoken champion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, said in the statement that he was delighted to be going to Gaza for the concert.
"We are very happy to come to Gaza," he said. "We are playing this concert as a sign of our solidarity and friendship with the civil society of Gaza."
Around 50 musicians from five prestigious European orchestras were expected to enter Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday, via the southern Rafah border crossing, an UNSCO spokesman said.
"They have been brought specially together for the event," he said, saying they would play to an audience of at least 300 people, including music students.
"The concert is to try and bring something to the people of Gaza," he said. "It is not a political event in any sense."
Details of the programme were not immediately available but it was expected to include various pieces by Mozart which will be played by musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, the Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, and the Orchestra of La Scala di Milano.
Barenboim, who has joint Israeli-Argentine nationality, accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship in 2008, saying he hoped the move would be an example of the "everlasting bond" between Israelis and Palestinians.
He has long used his fame as a conductor and pianist to promote the cause of peace between Israel and its neighbours and in 1999 co-founded a so-called "peace orchestra" with his friend Edward W. Said, a Palestinian American scholar who died in 2003.
Known as the East-West Divan orchestra, it brings together Israeli, Arab and international musicians.
Barenboim performs regularly in the West Bank, but has in the past been denied permission by Israel to cross into the Gaza Strip, most recently in April 2010.