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News from Berlin

Berlin Welcomes West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

September 04th, 2014
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News from Berlin - A long queue of people  formed in front of the Waldbühne on  Sunday evening at the end of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra's 2014 tour. Participants brought blankets and picnic utilities. It was easy to see the enthusiasm in their faces about the event they were about to attend, in the breathtaking surroundings of Waldbühne. The musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra were doing the sound check and the final rehearsal. At 5pm, the space started to come together and the rain was threatening the stubborn audience that wanted to listen to one of the most special and important orchestras of the moment.

The mission and career of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra started in  1999, when Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said founded the project. Having its headquarters in Sevilla, Spain, the Orchestra is a common platform for music and culture exchange for Israeli, Palestinian artists and musicians from other countries of the Middle East. Daniel Barenboim invited Iranian musicians as well to cooperate with and enrich the project. Although the project was supposed to be a one time event, it quickly gained recognition and appreciation and was transformed into a permanent orchestra. As the author of the project emphasizes, the West- Eastern Divan Orchestra is not aiming to bring peace among nations but to replace ignorance with education, knowledge and understanding.

Daniel Barenboim emphasized in his written welcoming words that in such difficult times as those of the last weeks, it is especially important that the orchestra’s musicians coming from different places from the Middle East have open ears to listen to each others’ experiences and opinions. Amongst the guests were prominent personalities, such as German Foreign Minister Hans Walter Steinmeier and actress-singer Katja Riemann.    

The German station of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s annual summer tour attracted numerous visitors to Waldbühne, one of the Berlin’s most spectacular concert locations, situated in the middle of a forest just next to Olympiapark. The spectator area has room for 22.290 visitors and was almost  full. The classical music concert enchanted the audience, many of whom, despite unpleasant weather circumstances, gave the concert a standing ovation . After a Mozart piano concert, the musicians performed Maurice Ravel’s pieces.

After the break, people returned to their seats with the rhythm of Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole. Then came Alborada del gracioso from Miroirs and Pavane pour une infante défunte. The last piece, Ravel’s Bolero, started with the perfect rhythm of the tambour, while the different woodwinds were playing the melody, answering one another with enough discipline that Barenboim did not need to conduct. At the peak of the piece, the tension of the music could be felt in the audience, not even a plane nor the  raindrops were heard anymore, in the open space. The applause came like a storm right after the musicians stopped playing. Barenboim abandoned the stage, but the people kept on clapping their hands, asking for more music. The Argentinean conductor came back to play Bizet’s Carmen.

Eventually, umbrellas were not necessary and the sound of nature was eclipsed by the music. Some people enjoyed crêpes while listening to the marvellous interpretation of Ravel’s Bolero, while others covered themselves with blankets as the night was approaching. However, everybody could feel the good vibrations that the ensemble of different cultures produced

News from Berlin - Berlin Global

Agnieszka Laskowska; Katalin Szabó; andIria Ameixeiras