© Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival
© Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra 1
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra | Lahav Shani | Daniel Barenboim
When Der Spiegel asked Daniel Barenboim a few years ago whether he could imagine another conductor for his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, he responded: “That’s like asking a happily married man whether his wife could be happy with someone else.” But now Barenboim is indeed vacating his seat at the podium of his beloved orchestra – for one evening at least. And there are two good reasons for that. For one, the “someone else” who will stand in his place with the baton is the 32-year-old Lahav Shani. Barenboim has been a mentor, fostering the young Israeli’s stellar career rise to remarkable effect. As a result, Shani now serves as music director of two top orchestras: the Israel and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras. Barenboim can trust him completely when he himself takes on one of the greatest challenges in the pianistic repertoire, the Second Piano Concerto by Johannes Brahms, whose intricate solo part really seems to require more than ten fingers. In any case, he’ll certainly not have attention to spare to wield the conductor’s baton as well.
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra | Daniel Barenboim © Peter Fischli/LUCERNE FESTIVAL
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 2019Other dates
Lahav Shani Lahav Shani © Marco Borggreve
Lahav Shani, who was born in Tel Aviv in 1989, began taking piano lessons at the age of six. He later studied with Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta Academy of Music in his native city, completing his education at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin, where he studied conducting with Christian Ehwald and piano with Fabio Bidini. Daniel Barenboim became his mentor during this time. Shani won the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Bamberg in 2013, which launched his international career. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra since 2017 and Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra since 2018; in 2020 he will succeed Zubin Mehta as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, where he made his debut as a solo pianist in 2007 playing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. In addition, Shani has appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the London and Boston Symphony Orchestras, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has continued his career as a pianist and has led performances from the keyboard with such ensembles as the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. With the Capuçon brothers, he appeared as the piano soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018 he gave a solo recital in Berlin’s Boulez Saal. Lahav Shani is also a passionate chamber musician and has performed in this capacity at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Cologne Philharmonie, and the Verbier Festival. He has released a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor with Renaud Capuçon and Kian Soltani.
July 2019Other dates
Daniel Barenboim © Priska Ketterer/LUCERNE FESTIVAL
The conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, both of whose parents were piano teachers, was born in Buenos Aires in 1942 and began performing in public at the age of seven. In 1952 his family moved to Israel, where the American-Israel Cultural Foundation Competition awarded him a scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1953. He also took courses in conducting with Igor Markevitch and, in 1954, was introduced to Wilhelm Furtwängler, who described him as a “phenomenon.” During the first phase of his career, Barenboim toured as an internationally successful concert pianist. Since making his conducting debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1967, he has been in demand by all of the leading orchestras. Barenboim’s first permanent position was helming the Orchestre de Paris (1975 to 1989); from 1991 to 2006 he was Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which then named him Honorary Conductor. He made his operatic debut in 1973 with Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Edinburgh Festival; in 1981 he debuted at Bayreuth, returning there every summer until 1999. Since 1992 Barenboim has been General Music Director of the Berlin Staatsoper; the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Chief Conductor for Life in 2000. He was closely associated with La Scala in Milan from 2007 to 2014, most recently as Music Director. In 1999 Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which unites young musicians from Israel, the Arab countries, and Spain. In March 2017 he opened the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, where he performs works ranging from the Classical era to the present with his newly founded Boulez Ensemble. For his artistic and cultural-political work, Barenboim has received such distinctions as the Prince of Asturias Concord Prize, the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal, the Siemens Music Prize, the Goethe Medal, and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale Award.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 25 August 1966, performing piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven with the English Chamber Orchestra.
Further Information: www.danielbarenboim.com
July 2019Other dates
Introduction to the Concert | 18.30 | KKL Luzern, Auditorium
with Susanne Stähr (in German)