Peace orchestra bids farewell to Annan

Thursday, December 21, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

A peace orchestra made up of Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, and Spanish musicians conducted a special concert at the United Nations General Assembly in New York Wednesday during the farewell ceremony held for outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The orchestra, called “West-Eastern Divan,” is lead and conducted by Daniel Barenboim and consists of 92 musicians from the Middle East and Spain, where it is located. The concert was also attended by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, foreign ambassadors, Nobel Prize Laureate Eli Weisel, James Wolfenson, and other dignitaries. Israel was represented by UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman.

Among others, the orchestra played a symphony for four wind instruments where two of the players were Israeli, one was Syrian, and the other Egyptian. After the concert Barenboim commented that he wondered when the last time an Israeli, a Syrian, and an Egyptian spoke in such harmony in the halls of the UN. Barenboim also mentioned the uniqueness of the orchestra which is playing at the UN.

Barenboim also met with Ambassador Gillerman and told him of the cooperation between the musicians of the peace orchestra and the praise it is getting around the world. “It is true that music will not bring peace, but it is a great example for all that we can all coexist peacefully,” Barenboim said.

Barenboim was also able to arrange a meeting between Gillerman and the Palestinian observer to the UN Riad Mansur. Barenboim explained that “maybe this was the result of the special music coming out of Israeli and Arab musicians.”

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