Classical music and the arts are flowering as healers of people and relationships.
     In 1988, the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire was a musical pioneer in the Middle East public peace process.
     Their expanded annual Playing for Peace Project -- -- today promotes friendship, peace, understanding, and basic human contact between and among Israelis, Arabs, Americans, Cypriots, citizens of the Transcaucasus, citizens of Northern Ireland, people throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America -- indeed all peoples of the world.
     "PLAYING FOR PEACE: Music by Arabs and Israelis as a metaphor for the public peace process" is a one-hour video as totally instructive and timely as at its 1993 creation.
     This affordable video, a must-see to understand the music-peace relationship, is available on the Web at:

     Daniel Barenboim, as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, became the first of his caliber to begin healing the Middle East and beyond through classical music.
     His advances have not been without criticism, with his willingness to play Wagner -- considered anti-Jewish in his lifetime -- and to play in Ramallah in times of conflict.
     LIFE magazine first reported that in 1999 --  PIANO DIPLOMACY: A famed Israeli musician makes an overture for peace  -- remembered at:
     In September, 2002 the New York Times reported: "'Moonlight' and Mendelssohn in the West Bank," seen at:

     In 1999 Barenboim and his close friend, the late scholar Edward Said, established the visionary West-Eastern Divan Orchestra for Middle Eastern youth musicians.
     The young women and men  continue gathering in summer to combine classical music study with dialogue and sharing of their lives.
     They share not only music stands, but living quarters and meal tables.
     They play sports and engage intimately in discussions about identity and narratives about realities of their daily lives.
     Their first CD/DVD -- BARENBOIM: WEST-EASTERN DIVAN ORCHESTRA -- came out just weeks ago, July, 2005.
     The young Jewish and Arab musicians play beautifully for peace -- Tchaikovsky, Verde and Sibelius.
     The CD/DVD is also a documentary on "Lessons in Harmony," interviewing the young musicians and showing them at work. 
     And there is a historic portion: "In Conversation: Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said." 
     The new album is described and available at:

     Today, Monday, 22 August 2005, the Arab-Jewish youth ensemble orchestra gave an unprecedented concert in Ramallah.
     They considered it a declaration event for reconciliation and harmony.
     Today's Ha'aretz reported on both the controversies and Barenboim's words: "For me, it is important to stress that everyone has an obligation to work toward peace, in his field and with his own means."
     You can read more at:
     We end with another description of the day in Ramallah -- a day of life-changing music, with its capacity to lift us to our highest.
                -- L&L

Publshed in The Guardian (United Kingdom) -- Monday, 22 August 2005,2763,1553956,00.html

Barenboim's orchestra plays for peace in Ramallah
Charlotte Higgins in Ramallah

     In a concert hall atop a dust-swept, sun-beaten hill yesterday afternoon, Daniel Barenboim was putting an orchestra through its paces, urging them, as he brandished his way through the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth: "Wake up! If you are tired, please stay at home! There's no point playing the concert like this. Now: TEE-ya ta-ta TEE-ya ta-ta!"
     One could forgive the players for being a little distracted: the concert hall in which they were rehearsing was the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, and the ensemble the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - the youth orchestra founded in 1998 by Barenboim and his close friend, the Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, consisting of musicians from Israel and Arab countries.
     This was a historic day. Few had dared hope that the orchestra - which aims to foster dialogue and reconciliation through music - would succeed in performing in the West Bank. A similar attempt by the orchestra to play in Ramallah last year was abandoned because of security fears.
     It is not every day that one sees a rehearsal being guarded by troops armed with semi-automatic weapons, but the atmosphere among the musicians was relaxed and excited.
     To enter Ramallah, each musician was issued with a diplomatic passport by the Spanish government (the orchestra's summer training camps are based in Seville). "Believe me, the logistics of this concert are worth writing a book about," said Barenboim.
     But, standing beneath the West Bank barrier on Saturday at Ramallah's Qalandiya checkpoint, he praised the governments involved. "We have had the utmost cooperation - and I'm not exactly shy; believe me, I would certainly take this opportunity to complain if I needed to."
     Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, a 20-year-old Israeli-Arab born in Nazareth, said after the rehearsal: "It's incredibly exciting to be here. All along the idea of the orchestra was to play in Arab countries, and I hope now that it will fill its whole potential; and I hope we will play in Israel.
     "It takes great courage for the Israelis to come to Ramallah, and finally get to see the reality of how the Palestinians live. It's a very symbolic and strong gesture."
     Last night the concert hall filled up half an hour before the concert began, and then kept on filling.
     In the end people were sitting three-deep in the aisles and standing at the sides and the back of the hall, even the great and the good of Ramallah reduced to a perch on the floor.
     The first standing ovation came as Barenboim walked on stage. Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, horn, clarinet and bassoon was embarked upon to a chorus of clicking shutters.