West-Eastern Divan Orchestra • BBC News: Uniting Arabs, Israelis
How technology is helping make music accessible for all. Grant Llewellyn, conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales introduces the strings section of the orchestra. The instruments that make up the strings. Here, 50 members of the Syrian Orchestra for Arabic Music have gathered to they were before, and nobody knows when we will meet again.
It is a bittersweet song, but it doesn't deal with the war explicitly. Inmy dad went to Iraq and wrote two amazing books about Islamic pattern [musical rhythms].
So the music was somehow always there in our household.
We had a bit of a more Sufi outlook on things, but I always felt connected to it". In rehearsals, Albarn's knowledge of, and connection to, the music becomes apparent.
Orchestral musicians 'living on breadline'
He strives to make things sound perfect but, more importantly, he wants the orchestra and the oriental influence to be predominant.
Both at the rehearsals and on stage, there is a certain magic - something indescribable, something that could only happen in a room full of people who share a passion for music, a love for one other, and the inclination to deliver a concert that makes people happy.
Performing in London's Royal Festival Hall, the musicians stress that "tonight we see the real face of Syria: Art and music and culture". When the choir lift up their hands to make heart signs, the audience stand and respond in kind. I wondered what this would mean for the West-Eastern Divan.
- Delayed orchestra's impromptu airport gig
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- The orchestra
Would any orchestral members boycott the tour? Would it all go ahead as planned? When the chips were down, how truly committed were this group of young musicians from opposite sides of the divide to engaging with each other?
Delayed orchestra's impromptu airport gig - BBC News
Attached to the email was an editorial Barenboim had written about the war in Gaza, which also laid out his three wishes for the New Year. In the end, not a single Arab or Israeli member of the Divan boycotted that tour: And it was a fortnight that changed my life.
It is a singular space in which human beings who are otherwise forcibly kept apart can come together to exchange ideas and views, learn about each other and, above all, listen to each other in a world that would otherwise keep them silent.
Here we are, over five years later, and the situation in the Middle East is somehow — unimaginably — worse. Engaged on their annual summer tour, which this year includes their own day festival in Buenos Aires as well as major music festivals in Lucerne, Salzburg and Berlin, Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan arrived in London the week of 18 August.
Against a backdrop of broken ceasefire announcements and unbroken strife between their peoples back home, the orchestra gave a BBC Proms performance 20 August that ended in no fewer than five encores from the rapturous audience at the Royal Albert Hall.