From his statement on the anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights:
In our orchestra, diversity is lived on a daily basis and no single musician can exist without a fundamental understanding and appreciation of the other, however different he or she may be.
The sovereign independent republic of the West-Eastern Divan, as I like to call it, began as an unpredictable experiment in 1999. Over the years, it has grown into an example of how society could function under the best of circumstances. Our musicians have gone through the painful process of learning to express themselves while simultaneously listening to the narrative of their counterparts. I cannot imagine a better way of implementing the first and most fundamental article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights: that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, that they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
From the outset, our approach in the orchestra’s workshops and seminars has been to focus on understanding what it means to listen to each other – both as musicians and as human beings. Learning to listen in that way sensitises us both for ourselves and the world around us.
Full article here.