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Barenboim presents festival in Argentina

From left to right: BA Culture Minister Hernán Lombardi, Daniel Barenboim, City Mayor Mauricio Macri and Colón Director Pedro Pablo García Caffi.
By Luciana Ekdesman
Herald Staff

Politics seeps into music presentation as artists face questions about the Gaza conflict

Celebrated Argentine-Israeli musician Daniel Barenboim yesterday presented at the Colón Theatre the first local Barenboim Festival which will take place from August 3 to 12 in Buenos Aires. Apart from Barenboim, Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, Colón Theatre Director Pedro Pablo García Caffi, Buenos Aires Culture Minister Hernán Lombardi, the widow of Palestinian director Edward Said — co-founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra — Mariam C. Said, and two orchestra members — Sudanese trumpeter Bassam Mussad and Israeli oboist Meirav Kadichevski (born in Argentina) — attended the press conference.

Tickets for Barenboim Festival performances at the Colón are sold out. However, there will be a free concert on August 10 at 11am at Puente Alsina, the border between Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires Province.

“This festival is not mine, it is the festival of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which is performing for the third time in Argentina,” said Barenboim.

Barenboim’s festival, one of the highly anticipated musical events of the year, features concerts of different types and an interesting talk about current affairs between Barenboim and former Spanish president Felipe González on August 10 at 8pm. This discussion is also part of a new season called Diálogos de música y reflexión (Dialogues on Music and Reflection) — which is scheduled to end in 2017, aiming at reflection on different social and cultural topics. Admission to this event is free of charge. Distribution of the tickets will be announced by the theatre at a later date.

Barenboim said he is happy to return to Argentina where he feels at home — he was born in Buenos Aires and went to live in Israel as a child. The first time he played at the Colón was at age 17 in the 1960. “Clearly, this festival is not perfect, we have to develop it and we will do it in a good way, especially in our reflections. So, be patient and I hope we will develop it in the future,” Barenboim told the media yesterday.

Regarding current affairs, Barenboim stated: “The orchestra, as you may imagine, is facing a hugely sensitive moment with the war. Relatives of the orchestra’s musicians are killing each other on both sides. I am really moved to see that despite this cruel and horrible war none of the musicians — neither Arab nor Israeli — cancelled their participation in this series of concerts. That is, in a way, a great gesture towards Buenos Aires.”

A special concert is planned to open the festival this Sunday in which Barenboim will play with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 and featuring Israeli and Palestinian performers, and Argentine pianist Martha Argerich who will play as soloist.

The following day, Barenboim will conduct his orchestra in Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Prelude and Liebestod (concert version). This concert will be repeated on August 6, 10 and 12.

On August 5, Martha Argerich will join Barenboim onstage for a piano duets repertoire. “I love and admire Martha Argerich. She is the best pianist of the world. For me, it is special to play with her here,” he said.

A few days later, on August 9, musical-comic group Les Luthiers will join Barenboim and Argerich in a chamber concert. They will play Igor Stravinsky’s Histoire du soldat and Camille Saint-Saëns’s Le carnaval des animaux.

“Why Les Luthiers? I am a big fan of them. I attended their first concert in Madrid, almost 40 years ago. I had a lot of fun every time I saw them in Buenos Aires and Spain. My wife suggested that we include Les Luthiers in the festival,” he stated.

Said’s widow thanked the local government and the theatre for the invitation. “Since the orchestra was founded in 1999, it has gone a long way. Its message is humanism with the musical language. My husband believed that humanism is the last and only resistance we have against injustice,” she said.

@lucianaek

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