Barenboim conducts rare classical concert in Gaza Strip
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Classical musician Daniel Barenboim, a supporter of Palestinian rights, broke new ground on Tuesday when he traveled to the Gaza Strip to conduct a concert.
Musicians from some of Europe's top orchestras entered the coastal enclave from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing amid tight security, to form the "Orchestra for Gaza" and play Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and the Symphony No. 40.
Barenboim's appearance with the orchestra, players of the Staatskapelle Berlin, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and La Scala of Milan, was a first in recent memory in Gaza where traditional Arabic music is more common.
An audience of some 700 attended the hour-long concert at the plush al-Madha center along the beachfront in the northern Gaza Strip.
The event was organised by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that cares for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
When introducing the event, Barenboim said the concert was taking place because "these are people who care about you, this is why we are here today."
Barenboim has become a controversial figure in Israel for his vocal opposition to its occupation of the West Bank, where he has performed on several occasions.
Since 1999, he has promoted Arab-Israeli cultural contacts and he leads the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young Israeli and Arab musicians which is based in Seville, Spain. Continued...