Legendary conductor brings mixed Arab-Israeli orchestra to Beijing
Published: Aug 08, 2011 08:14 AM Updated: Aug 08, 2011 08:39 AM

Forbidden City Concert Hall presented a concert by the legendary conductor Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra on Friday.

When the 69-year-old maestro appeared on the stage, the packed concert hall burst into applause for minutes. That night, he and the orchestra performed Beethoven's 3rd and 4th Symphonies in front of hundreds.

One of the most influential musicians in the world, Daniel Barenboim rose to fame after his first public concert at the age of only 7. The establishment of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra by Barenboim and the Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said in 1999 made him even more well known. The project brings together young musicians from Israel and the Arab world every summer and seeks to enable a dialogue between the cultures of the Middle East and to promote this through the experience of making music together.

"In the world of music, we are equal with the right to know ourselves, the society and the human beings. In such a short time, music can bring people's attention together and connect to everything that you have in real world," said the maestro.

The deep understanding of music behind the talent made Barenboim intone of the world's top musicians. For this, Lady Davies from KT Wong Foundation, which aims to boost cultural dialogue between the East and West, decided to bring Barenboim and the orchestra's music to China.

"I heard their music years ago, which deeply moved me and other people at the hall. We have been thinking of giving the young generation more access to high culture music like this. So here they are," recalled Lady Davies, who also helped stage Baroque opera Semele with Chinese interpretations from Zhang Huan, last year.

But she didn't only want to simply stage a concert, but hoped to "open the door to dual dialogues" with her sponsorship. Before Friday night's performance, she invited some musicians to have a meeting with Barenboim."What we are doing is giving young people the opportunity for dialogue with great minds in the world. And this kind of communication must be mutual. We provide a natural platform for them," she added.

She hopes the audience can take something away in their hearts at concerts like this. "The music can move them to think about the world and people around. They can remember what the music makes them feel at that moment. Maybe they will relook at life in a different way. Anyway, it will be a great experience both in music and life," she said.