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Barenboim’s peace concert aims to make inter-Korean dialogue easier

Aug. 9, 2011 - 18:56 By
Barenboim’s peace concert aims to make inter-Korean dialogue easier

Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim said the purpose of the upcoming “2011 Peace Concert” in Imjingak near the demilitarized zone on Aug. 15 is to make inter-Korean dialogue a little easier.

“It was one of the main reasons why I agreed to come to the Far East. A lot of conflicts have happened in the world and that between North Korea and South Korea is no exception,” said Barenboim at a press conference in Seoul.

“It is the possibility of dialogue.”
Conductor Daniel Barenboim at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)

Asked whether he hopes to hold the same concert in North Korea, he said, “I would hold a concert where all Koreans would be able to attend.”

The maestro will lead his youth orchestra, consisting of artists from the Middle East including Israelis and Palestinians, to hold a rare concert series at the Seoul Arts Center, covering all Beethoven Symphonies from No. 1 to No. 9 from Wednesday to Sunday, except Saturday.

It is the first time that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will have a concert in Seoul and it is also the first time that the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies is to be staged in a series of concerts in four days on the Korean Peninsula.

The orchestra and Barenboim, who visits Seoul for the first time in 27 years after a concert in 1984, will also perform “2011 Peace Concert” in Imjingak near the demilitarized zone to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula on Liberation Day on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message, congratulating the peace concert at Imjingak.

“I am confident that the concert will offer an excellent opportunity for not only Koreans but also the audience of the entire world to digest the message of great joy and humanity embodied in the music and to reinvigorate their shared commitment to and collective wish for peace,” Ban said in the video.

Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which the conductor had established in 1999 for a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, will perform Beethoven Symphony No. 1, No. 8 and No. 5 on Wednesday, No. 4 and No. 3 “Eroica” on Thursday, No. 6 “Pastorale” and No. 7 on Friday and No. 2 and No. 9 “Choral” on Sunday.

Symphony No. 9 “Choral” will be in collaboration with Korean singers including soprano Jo Su-mi, mezzo soprano Lee Ah-kyung, tenor Park Ji-min, bass Maurice Ham and three choirs.

The program of the Imjingak concert at the Pyeonghwa-Nuri Park’s outdoor concert venue in Paju will be No. 9 “Choral,” the same as the Sunday program at the SAC.

Beethoven takes a special place in Barenboim’s musical career. As a pianist, Barenboim recorded the complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and rose to an international stardom in 1950s. At the upcoming concert, he will deliver Beethoven’s hopes and jubilation in Symphony No. 9, the final symphony that the composer created while losing his hearing ability.

The final choral finale of the fourth movement will deliver a message of unity and harmony, just as Beethoven had written -- “all men become brothers,” said Credia, the organizer of the event.

The 68-year-old and the WEDO in May held a peace concert in Gaza. Barenboim received honorary Palestinian citizenship in 2008 and the WEDO performed in the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2005.

Tickets for the peace concert are priced at 35,000 won. Call 1577-5266 or 1544-1555.

By Kim Yoon-mi (