Thursday, September 4, 2008

Orchestra Against Ignorance:
MYO and MCYO are also
"a realisation of the impossible and a metaphor for the possible"

An article on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in the Australian (emphasis mine):

...although music, as merely "sonorous air", is powerless in and of itself, it can "teach us to think in a way that is a school for life".

In music, so the argument goes, you cannot express yourself without listening to others and respecting their voice. Legato denotes boundaries. Tempo, the speed of a process. Dynamics, the volume at which your voice may or may not overpower another. The symphony orchestra, Barenboim deduces, is therefore an alternative "template for democracy"; and his particular orchestra -- comprised as it is of 120 young Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians and Iranians -- perhaps the unlikely archetype.

Described as both a realisation of the impossible and a metaphor for the possible, the West-Eastern Divan was originally conceived by the Israeli Barenboim and the Palestinian academic Edward Said...

"When playing music, it is possible to achieve a unique sense of peace," he insists. And beyond the temporary harmony of a Brahms symphony, say, is hope for something more enduring. Nobody involved with the orchestra is naive enough to think that sonorous air can stop tanks in the Middle East. But knowledge. Understanding. "There is complete and total ignorance on both sides," states Barenboim with typical candour. So this is not an orchestra for peace, as it is often billed, but an "orchestra against ignorance", because ignorance, as Said declared, "is not a strategy for sustainable survival".

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