Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is Daniel Barenboim the only person who can fix things?

It wouldn't surprise me.

While the killing continues in the Middle East, he's founding a college in Berlin based on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra's principles. A new college in a former Berlin Staatskapelle warehouse. Around 80 Israeli and Arab youngsters will - we hope - mix here to study music, with a spot of social sciences and international politics on the side. A new concert hall, apparently, to be named after Pierre Boulez and to be designed by Frank Gehry and Yasuhisa Toyota. A new idea that talking to one another might actually help. Projected opening date: 2015. Barenboim may be the only person who can make this happen. More from Brian Wise at WQXR, here.

And meanwhile the killing goes on. And so artists speak out. And when they do there is always someone - usually with an agenda - who'll say "shut up and play the piano". (The other day a piece in the Guardian used a protest movement as a way of, er, slamming a protest movement; it said that the director of an Israeli dance company actually agreed with the protestors outside the theatre and that this somehow meant the protestors were stupid. Oddly, the article now seems to have vanished.)

But if artists don't speak out, nobody will. Artists - performing, creative, literary, musical, balletic - seem to be the last bastion of humanity that possesses a moral compass. With corruption rife and politicians toothless, artists are the only ones left. And there's one thing better than speaking out: doing something positive. Is Barenboim the only one in the world who both will and can? Atta-Danny.