• A visually lyric moment as Daniel Barenboim conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in the first half of his concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, held at Carnegie Hall on February 3, 2013.
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    A visually lyric moment as Daniel Barenboim conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in the first half of his concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, held at Carnegie Hall on February 3, 2013.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • The orchestra, co-founded by Barenboim and the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said, brings together musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other countries across the Middle East including Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran.
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    The orchestra, co-founded by Barenboim and the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said, brings together musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other countries across the Middle East including Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • Barenboim makes his entrance onstage for the massive Beethoven Ninth Symphony.
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    Barenboim makes his entrance onstage for the massive Beethoven Ninth Symphony.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • A propulsive Barenboim at the podium. At other moments, the conductor leaned back and directed the orchestra only with his eyes — and no hand gestures.
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    A propulsive Barenboim at the podium. At other moments, the conductor leaned back and directed the orchestra only with his eyes — and no hand gestures.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • The starry soloists for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 were soprano Diana Damrau, mezzo Kate Lindsey, tenor Piotr Beczala and bass René Pape.
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    The starry soloists for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 were soprano Diana Damrau, mezzo Kate Lindsey, tenor Piotr Beczala and bass René Pape.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • The Westminster Symphonic Choir, directed by Joe Miller, joined the Divan and Barenboim for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
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    The Westminster Symphonic Choir, directed by Joe Miller, joined the Divan and Barenboim for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • The concert was part of the Divan's "Beethoven for All" initiative, which has taken them to cities as diverse as Beijing, Buenos Aires, London and now New York.
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    The concert was part of the Divan's "Beethoven for All" initiative, which has taken them to cities as diverse as Beijing, Buenos Aires, London and now New York.
    Melanie Burford for NPR
  • Barenboim and the musicians acknowledge the audience's warm applause at the end of this concert — their last of a full Beethoven symphony cycle at Carnegie Hall.
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    Barenboim and the musicians acknowledge the audience's warm applause at the end of this concert — their last of a full Beethoven symphony cycle at Carnegie Hall.
    Melanie Burford for NPR

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Classics in Concert

Carnegie Hall Live: Daniel Barenboim Leads The West-Eastern Divan OrchestraWQXR radio

Performers:

  • West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
  • Daniel Barenboim, music director and conductor
  • Diana Damrau, soprano
  • Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano
  • Piotr Beczala, tenor
  • René Pape, bass
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir
  • Joe Miller, Conductor

In 1999, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and his dear friend, the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said, founded an extraordinary ensemble: the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a project that would bring together musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other countries across the Middle East like Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran.

Their idea was that music would provide a forum for diverse voices to engage with each other in within the nonpolitical platform of music. (Barenboim recently asserted to WQXR that the Divan is "the only space for dialogue in the Middle East now, in any field.") Just as in musical counterpoint, Barenboim and Said believed, the musicians would be able to hear each other simultaneously – not cancelling each other out, but instead enhancing each other.

Since its founding, the orchestra has gone from being a grand experiment to an internationally renowned ensemble. They've played the full cycle of Beethoven cycles from Buenos Aires to China to London and beyond — and this week, they've brought that project to Carnegie Hall. The perfect conclusion? Beethoven's epic Ninth Symphony, paired with the sprightly and trim Second Symphony.

This performance comes days after members of the Divan and Daniel Barenboim gave an intimate performance of Mendelssohn, Bartok, Boulez and a new work by one of the Divan's alumni, clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, in a concert co-presented by NPR Music, WQXR and (Le) Poisson Rouge. Side by side, these performances offer a chance to hear two sides of this very multi-faceted ensemble.

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