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Synopsis: Bringing together young musicians from Palestine, Israel and other countries of the Middle East, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is both one of the most acclaimed youth orchestras in the world and a rare note of hope in a war-torn region. Founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999, it aims to promote Arab-Israeli understanding through music. In An Orchestra Beyond Borders, Elena Cheah, a professional musician and assistant to Daniel Barenboim, explores the orchestra’s journey through the remarkable stories of the musicians that comprise it. These youthful testimonies are a window into the life of the region. Together, they communicate the musicians’ ambitions and hopes, their varied and conflicting views on life and politics, and above all the orchestra’s transformative ability to create an atmosphere of musical cooperation away from the implications and hardships of a world full of division and conflict.

About the Author: Elena Cheah was principal cellist of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Staatskapelle Berlin, before becoming professor of cello at the Academy for Orchestral Studies for the Barenboim-Said Foundation, Seville, Spain. Elena plays in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and runs workshops for its members. Born in Pittsburgh, Elena currently lives in Berlin.

Daniel Barenboim is one of the most prominent musicians of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as both pianist and conductor. He has received numerous Grammy awards, and is the author of A Life in Music, Music Quickens Time, and, co-authored with Edward Said, Parallels and Paradoxes. He was a UN Ambassador for Peace and has received many awards including the Goethe Medal, the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, the Praemium Imperiale and the Wolf Prize in Arts.

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