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Barenboim's Orchestra Plays Mozart
for Peace in the Middle East

by Gretchen Small
November 2015

Daniel Barenboim after a performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the Musikverein, Vienna, Austria (November 2, 2008).

Daniel Barenboim conducted his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in a performance of Mozart's Symphonies 39, 40, and 41 the first weekend in November, at the UN Palace of Nations in Geneva, in the second "Concert for the Understanding of Civilisations and Human Rights" organized by the ONUART Foundation, and transmitted live to more than 30 countries.

Maestro Barenboim says that peace needs more than musicians, but what musicians can provide is an example of what can be accomplished together. Spain's El Mundo reported that in a press conference before the Geneva concert, Barenboim called upon "the great powers" of the world "to put pressure [on] both parties" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to find a common will to at least resolve the conflict. "Peace requires justice and security... The security which Israel requires will only be achieved by satisfying the search for peace which the Palestinians require."

The Seville, Spain-based orchestra which the Jewish Argentine Barenboim conducts, is made up principally of young Israeli and Arab musicians, coming from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Sudan, Turkey and Spain.

ONUART, a private foundation sponsored by the government of Spain, whose president is former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel-Angel Morotinos, initiated the concert series to promote understanding between cultures and societies. Its first, given in December 2014, featured Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, who was joined by sopranos Pretty Yende and Fatma Said, and Russian bass Sergey Artamonov, with an orchestra formed by a selection of musicians from the System of Youth Orchestras and conducted by Pablo Mielgo.