Showing posts with label West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Show all posts

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Over to Daniel Barenboim

We're coming to the end of an insane year. Everything is polarised to lunatic fringe extremes, leaving the sensible, grown-up centre vacant. Is anybody talking sense any more?

Yes: Daniel Barenboim is. Here is his post-concert speech at the United Nations, where he and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed for Human Rights Day last weekend. Please listen carefully.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inside Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

In just three and a half minutes, this inspiring video proves to us that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is more than just an orchestra, that Daniel Barenboim is more than just a conductor and that music really can build deep bridges when given the chance. Here, some of the musicians tell us their own story.

The film was made for the Wall Street Journal by Clemency Burton-Hill, who has also written an article on the new Barenboim-Said Academy that's about be founded in Berlin:
A new project that unites conductor Daniel Barenboim, architect Frank Gehry and Brown University will test whether music really is the universal language—by bringing together students from the Middle East in an ambitious curriculum.
The Barenboim-Said Academy, to be based in Berlin beginning in 2015, won't only offer a standard two-year music diploma. It will also be a "world awareness" academy: Up to 100 music students, aged 17 to 20 and hailing from Israel and its neighbors, will study world affairs, politics and the humanities, as well as Arabic and Hebrew. The German government has pledged almost $27 million over the next four years for the project.
"Music is often taught as if it exists in an ivory tower" and is seen as a distraction, a beautiful place to hide, Mr. Barenboim said. He added, "I want to fight that." ...
Read the whole thing in the WSJ here.

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.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barenboim - from podium to stadium

Here's my review for The Independent of the last night of Barenboim & the WEDO's Beethoven cycle, head to head with the Olympic opening ceremony. And eagle-eyed viewers still awake at about 12.45am may have noticed the maestro carrying the Olympic flag into the stadium in a posse of eight great humanitarian figures.

It was a difficult night to award a star rating - but eventually I felt that the sense of occasion and the power of the music-making deserved this 5-er. It was only a couple of the solo singers who didn't, and that may not be their fault: one was a late replacement and, besides, they may all have been fazed by their placement alongside the choir, having to sing clean across the orchestra.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Once more unto the Boulez, dear friends...

Here's my review for The Independent of last night's Prom: Barenboim & the WEDO again, and they're just getting better and better. As is the Boulez.

And a little more of my interview with the violinist Michael Barenboim is up now at Sinifini Music. He must have nerves of steel to hold that stage alone - it was quite a tour de force.

This Prom is being televised on Friday at 7.30pm on BBC4 - at which point Barenboim & co will probably still be in full swing with the Ninth inside the hall, a short concert with an early start so that we can all get home to watch the Olympic opening ceremony. Some of us might find the WEDO a bit more interesting than 70 sheep in a stadium, but... hey ho.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Guess who I fell in love with yesterday?

Yes, it's Pierre Boulez. Hearing his Derive 2 at the Barenboim/WEDO Prom somehow resembled discovering a new deep-sea creature that cast radical new light on all our assumptions of what marine life really is. I was riveted from start to finish. Its weaving of countless ideas, its progression of entirely aural and nonspecific narrative, its amazing colours (what a collection of instruments!), all conspire to challenge one's ideas of what music is, what it means and how we listen to it.

I'm holding the fort, more or less, with the Indy's classical reviews this week - Michael and Ed are both on their travels. Here's my write-up of last night.

Obviously not everyone is going to agree about the Boulez, which is as long as, or longer than, a big romantic symphony and requires a heap of concentration. So, for a way in, try reading Tom Service's brilliant introduction to the man and his music; and then catch the concert on the BBC iPlayer (UK only) here.

[photo by Clive Barda]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An interview with Barenboim & Son

I've been talking to Daniel Barenboim and his violinist son, Michael, about their burgeoning dynasty. They're respectively conductor and concertmaster of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which will be all but taking over the Proms from this Friday to next.

Read it all in today's Independent, here.

Here they are in the Schubert 'Trout' Quintet first movement, with an ensemble from the WED - Daniel Barenboim (piano), Michael Barenboim (violin), Orhan Celebi (viola), Kyril Zlotnikov (cello), Nabil Shehata (double bass). Enjoy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stop press: Barenboim at SOAS - live webcast NOW

Daniel Barenboim is at SOAS right now, to be interviewed by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. The event is being live-streamed and you can access it here:

They have started with a screening of a film about Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. When the interview gets underway, we can expect a focus on the state of music and politics in the Middle East. It's on until 12.30pm today.

Meanwhile, more about the inconvenient indivisibility of politics from goings-on that some people would prefer to dissociate from it via Robert Fisk in The Independent - this time, car racing in Bahrain...