Daniel Barenboim Leads Korean Border Concert, Ponders Cairo

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 09:09 PM

A day after Daniel Barenboim led his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in a concert at the borders of North and South Korea, he is now hoping to bring the ensemble to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic home of Egypt's Arab Spring uprising.

The Argentine-Israeli conductor told the German Press Agency DPA that world events have given him hope. "The revolts, and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima as well, have shown the weakness of the global system and how fast authoritarian regimes fall."

As South Korea marked the 66th anniversary of independence from Japanese colonial rule, Barenboim led his orchestra -- which is comprised of Israeli and Arab musicians -- in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. A South Korean choir accompanied the choral fourth movement of the work for an audience of 8,000 at the armistice line between North and South Korea. 

The concert, which took place in the Imjingak peace park adjacent to the military buffer zone between the two nations, was aimed at promoting peace on the Korean peninsula. It came just months after Barenboim and his orchestra played their first concert in the Gaza Strip in May.

Barenboim established the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with his friend, the late Palestinian writer and thinker Edward Said as way to bridge understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. Twelve years later, the group tours the world and has released several recordings.

The conductor has been having something of a banner summer. A week ago he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for using music to bring peace to the Middle East. About 2,500 people came out in support of the nomination including former president of Uruguay Julio Maria Sanguinetti and writer Juan Jose Sebreli.

In 2009, Barenboim conducted at the Cairo Opera House.

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