Inside the surreal world of Barenboim’s West-East Divan Orchestramain
Daniela Shemer, an Israeli cellist living in Frankfurt, is a player in the orchestra which is drawn from several sides of the blood-stained Mideast kaleidoscope.
In the new issue of her monthly online magazine, Mount Dela, Daniela shares her experiences in the ensemble.
Not all discussions are political. The WEDO works in a very particular format – it began as a youth orchestra but matured together with its musicians. Musically speaking, it grew into a professional orchestra. This positive development keeps raising questions regarding the future of the entire project. Barenboim often opens these for discussion: how do we accept new and younger musicians without sacrificing the level we have achieved? How do we make it possible for those of us who are members in other orchestras to keep participating in the Divan’s projects? These questions among others, address logistic as well as ideological issues to which various solutions were suggested over the years.
When it comes to discussing, be it on political, social or musical topics – the talks do not end with the official discussions which are timed into our schedules. This is only where they begin. In fact, the most interesting talks happen after official meetings and in between – while eating, drinking, smoking and sight-seeing. That is when the true Barenboim-Said vision comes to life: Arabs and Israelis exchange ideas, share stories, collaborate and create brave friendships.
One of the best communal inventions of the WEDO is a ceremony which we conduct every time we go on a charter flight. I do not know how old this tradition is or how it began, but every time it happens I seriously think of world peace. Right after take-off, while the flight attendant begins the flight safety demonstration, we begin our own little ritual. It includes taking off one shoe and holding on to its laces from the plane’s ceiling (demonstrating the use of an oxygen mask); creating as much noise as possible with the metal buckle of the security belt (practicing correct operation); and finally, a rather sophisticated hand-choreography (assisting the flight attendant with the marking of the plain’s doors). If you ever wanted to see Arabs and Israelis cooperate perfectly in tune – you would have to join one of the WEDO’s private flights.
Read on here.