I have been rather quiet for the last month or so, but last nights Proms concert was so uplifting that I felt the need to write a few words about it. Conducted by the multi award-winning Daniel Barenboim, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed Mozart, Ravel and two UK Premieres by Kareem Roustom and Ayal Adler, not to mention several extra pieces for the encore. Due to the line-up, it was a completely packed house and a fantastic atmosphere!
I have never heard Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture performed live before, and as with all pieces, it sounded a million times better than in recordings. It also got me thinking about how perfectly animation and moving image/art fits with classical music. Maybe having studied animation arts makes me more prone to this visualisation of the music, but I found it impossible to listen to without imagining some unconstrained, sprightly characters reacting with the music. I realised that the last time I was at the Royal Albert Hall was in fact, to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform live alongside the screening of Walt Disney’s animated Fantasia, which of course was out of this world. Ravel’s Boléro is also one of my favourite pieces and even though I have listened to a couple of smaller ensembles playing it recently, last nights performance with the full orchestra was incredible.
The most interesting part of the evening (other than the music!) was learning the story of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Founded by Barenboim, it has brought together Arab and Israeli musicians, therefore overcoming the political divides in the Middle East. With everything happening in Gaza recently, the musicians were asked if they wanted to continue playing together, to which they replied saying they did. The orchestra consequently wrote a shared statement saying: “WE ASPIRE TO TOTAL FREEDOM AND EQUALITY BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS, AND IT IS ON THIS BASIS THAT WE COME TOGETHER TO PLAY MUSIC.”
I think it is truly amazing, how music can bring people together so completely. I’m sure it was a unanimous feeling among the audience that it was having that knowledge of the founding of the orchestra that made the evening even more magical.