West-Eastern Divan Orchestra Plus

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Founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said in 1999, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra brings together musicians from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt – joined by a number of musicians from Iran, Turkey and Spain – to perform music and promote mutual understanding, non-violence and reconciliation. The orchestra regularly performs in leading international music festivals and concert halls and has given historically unprecedented performances in Ramallah, in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and most recently at Castel Gandolfo at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI. Since Edward W. Said’s untimely death in 2003, his widow, Mariam C. Said, has taken on an active role in the projects of the Barenboim-Said Foundation as vice-president of its US branch in New York. Originally created at the invitation of the Kunstfest Weimar and now based in Seville, Spain, the orchestra derives its name from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s collection of poems titled West-Eastern Divan, a central work in the evolution of the concept of world culture. An Emmy Award-winning documentary, Knowledge Is the Beginning, was made about the orchestra in 2006. (A clip is available here). Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has hailed the orchestra as "a source of inspiration and a model for the Middle East and the rest of the world," and current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named Barenboim a UN Messenger of Peace for his work with the Divan.

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