Barenboim to lead Korean border concert

AFP, Wednesday 10 Aug 2011

The Israeli-Argentine conductor Daniel Barenboim known for promoting peace will be holding a concert in South Korea

Israeli-Argentine conductor Daniel Barenboim voiced hope for peace on the divided Korean peninsula and the chance to perform in a unified country one day, ahead of a rare concert near the tense border.

The multiple award-winning musician will lead a performance in South Korea's Imjingak peace park on August 15 by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1999.

"Nothing would make me happier than we could play in a concert where all Koreans could come, North or South," he told reporters in Seoul.

"Music cannot solve conflicts but music has the ability to make people interested and passionate about the same thing," said the 68-year-old.

"When they have shared the musical experience, sometimes it makes dialogue a little bit easier," he said, adding that a lack of communication between Seoul and Pyongyang "would not bring anything good, either to the North or to the South".

Barenboim has long used his fame as a conductor and pianist to promote the cause of peace between Israel and its neighbours, and in 1999 founded the orchestra with his friend Edward W. Said, a Palestinian-American scholar who died in 2003.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra brings together Israeli, Arab and international musicians, and in 2005 it performed in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the border concert by the peace orchestra "carries special meaning" and will "send a magnificent symphonic message of peace and reconciliation," in a video message sent on Tuesday.

The event comes at a time when cross-border ties are at their lowest ebb in years after Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing its warship at a loss of 46 lives in March 2010.

The North angrily denied involvement but went on to shell a border island that left four South Koreans including two civilians dead last November.

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