New Barenboim-Said Academy plans unveiled

Centre for musical excellence will open in Berlin in 2016

Daniel Barenboim

First came Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Now plans have been unveiled for a new Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin.

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The Academy, which will share the West-Eastern Divan’s purpose of promoting understanding between young Israeli Jewish and Arabic musicians, will open in 2016. Occupying a former warehouse of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, its facilities will include 21 rehearsal rooms and a 620-seat concert hall designed by Frank Gehry and named after conductor and composer Pierre Boulez.

While the full curriculum has yet to be announced, the first year will see Barenboim himself delivering two lectures on philosophy per week. Overall, there will be an emphasis on contemporary music, while the academy will also aim to become a centre of excellence for the study of Arabic music.

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The foundation of the academy comes 15 years after Barenboim and the Palestinian scholar Edward Said set up the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, whose members are drawn from both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide. A huge success story, it has gone on to perform around the world, including its BBC Proms debut in 2003. Said himself died that same year.