West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (The Divan), which equally comprises young musicians from Israel and the Arab countries, along with some members from Spain, Turkey, and Iran, was founded in 1999 by Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said. The principle that inspired them was the vision of a peaceful coexistence of cultures in the Middle East. Not by chance was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s famous poetry collection West-östlicher Divan chosen as the ensemble’s namesake. Every summer the orchestra convenes for a period of working together, preparing that year’s programs through rehearsals, presentations, and discussions, which the musicians then present on international concert tours. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has performed in such venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, and the Teatro Co-lón in Buenos Aires, as well as in Rabat, Ramallah, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi. The ensemble also regularly appears at the BBC Proms, the Waldbühne in Berlin, and the Salzburg Festival and toured to the United States in November 2018, with stops in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Berkeley, and Los Angeles. At the beginning of August 2019, it gave six performances at the Festival Barenboim in Buenos Aires. Numerous CDs and DVDs, as well as Paul Smaczny’s film Knowledge Is the Beginning, document the work of this orchestra, which in February 2016 was named a United Nations Ambassador for Cultural Understanding. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is associated with the Barenboim-Said Academy, a state-accredited conservatory for music and the humanities where up to 90 talented musicians from the Middle East can obtain a four-year-long bachelor’s degree.

LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 21 August 2007, when Daniel Barenboim conducted works by Beethoven, Schoenberg, and Tchaikovsky.

Further Information: www.west-eastern-divan.org

July 2019