West-Eastern Divan Orchestra US Tour (Jan 23 – Feb 3) Includes Symphonies at Carnegie Hall; Boston Debut; Concerts at Columbia, Brown & Poisson Rouge; and Documentary at Symphony Space

This month Daniel Barenboim returns to the United States for a rare American appearance with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the ensemble that he founded in 1999 with the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said, which comprises young musicians from IsraelPalestine, and other Arab countries. Culminating in four concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall (Jan 30-Feb 3), during which Barenboim will lead the orchestra in a complete cycle of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, the tour also includes the orchestra’s debut performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall (Jan 27), as well as concerts and talks at two Ivy League universities: Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (Jan 23-28) and Columbia University in New York City (Feb 1). In advance of the Carnegie Hall concerts, two free events are being presented in New York City to celebrate the Divan’s arrival. Symphony Space hosts a screening of the Emmy Award-winning documentary about the orchestraKnowledge Is the Beginning (Jan 27), and NPR Music and WQXR 105.9 FM present Barenboim and members of the Divan in an eclectic chamber music program at the downtown venue (Le) Poisson Rouge (Jan 29). 

Residency at Brown University

Brown University hosts Daniel Barenboim and the musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra from January 23 through 28. The residency begins with a performance of Palestine, a play by Najla Said, daughter of Edward W. and Mariam C. Said, on January 23. Brown’s Cogut Center for the Humanities and the Center for Middle East Studies will present two campus conversations that engage the university community with the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. "Dissonance and Harmony: A Conversation" on Thursday, January 24 brings together Daniel Barenboim and Mariam C. Said for a conversation with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish (University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health; founder, The Daughters for Life Foundation; author of I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity) and Miko Peled (peace activist and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine). On Friday, January 25"Dissonance and Harmony: The Arab-Israeli Conflict Through Music and Academic Discourse" at the Granoff Center for the Performing Arts presents an informal discussion and audience talk-back with orchestra members and the Brown University community, followed by an evening of food, socializing, and live entertainment. During their residency, Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra perform two concerts at Veterans Memorial Auditorium: Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 on January 26, and Symphonies Nos. 1, 8, and 5 on January 28. 

Boston Debut

On January 27, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra makes its Boston debut in a single appearance at Symphony Hall presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston. For this concert, Daniel Barenboim leads the orchestra in Beethoven’s Second and Third Symphonies.

New York Concerts and Events

The orchestra’s Carnegie Hall series begins on Wednesday, January 30 at 8pm with Maestro Barenboim conducting Beethoven’s First, Fifth, and Eighth Symphonies. The Third and Fourth Symphonies follow on Thursday, January 31 at 8pm. On Saturday, February 2 at 8pm the orchestra performs the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies before concluding the cycle on Sunday, February 3 at 2pm, with the Second and Ninth Symphonies. The all-star quartet for the performance of the "Choral" symphony comprises soprano Diana Damrau, mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, tenor Piotr Beczała, and bass René Pape. They are joined by the Westminster Symphonic Choir under the direction of Joe Miller

The final concert on February 3 will be aired on WQXR 105.9 FM: New York’s classical music radio station and on stations nationwide as part of the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast and digital series. Concerts in the series are available for live streaming on and During every live broadcast, WQXR, Carnegie Hall, and digital partner NPR Music host live web chats – including Twitter commentary by the broadcast team – from backstage and in the control room.

A couple of days before the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s New York performances, Symphony Space will offer a free screening on Sunday, January 27 at 5:30pm of the Emmy Award-winning documentary Knowledge is the Beginning by director Paul Smaczny. This opportunity to discover the work of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra also includes a Q & A session with Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Israeli pianist Shai Wozner, and former Barenboim-Said Foundation Press and Communications Manager Nicole Foster, all of whom have been extensively involved with the ensemble over the years. Entrance is free, and tickets are available on a first-come first-served basis.

In another free event to kick off their New York residency, members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim appear at Greenwich Village’s (Le) Poisson Rouge on Tuesday, January 29, presenting an eclectic evening of music from the Western classical and Middle Eastern traditions. Featured performers on this program include two rising stars of the Divan who are quickly gaining international reputations as soloists: clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and violinist Michael Barenboim, Maestro Barenboim’s youngest son. The concert will be webcast live online by NPR Music at and by WQXR Ticket information will be announced online by the co-presenters – NPR Music, WQXR, and (Le) Poisson Rouge – on January 14. Doors open at 7pm, and the concert and live video webcast begin at 8pm.                                                                                             

On Friday, February 1, Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and Brown University’s Cogut Center for the Humanities present a symposium on the legacy of Edward W. Said at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Said, who served as Columbia’s University Professor of English and Comparative Literature, passed away ten years ago. The event includes a conversation between Daniel Barenboim and Ara Guzelimian (Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School), as well as a performance by Barenboim and members of the orchestra of works by Pierre BoulezFranz Schubert, and Kinan Azmeh. Tickets for the 7pm conversation and 8pm performance are available from the Miller Theatre box office. Earlier in the afternoon, from 4pm to 6pm, there will be a free panel discussion on "Edward Said’s Music" with Kinan Azmeh (clarinetist, WEDO alumnus), Stathis Gourgouris (Professor of Classics and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University), Ara GuzelimianIlham Khuri-Makdisi (Associate Professor of Middle East and World History, Northeastern University), and Michael Steinberg (Director of Cogut Humanities Center; Barnaby Conrad & Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History and Professor of Music, Brown University).