Making music in place of war

Last week when the Zubin-Mehta led Bavarian State Orchestra staged Ehsaas-e-Kashmir concert in Kashmir, the effort drew praise and criticism in equal measure. As part of the protest, a rival concert, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir, was also staged on the streets of Srinagar, bringing the spotlight back on music as an effective cultural weapon in zones of conflict. From the Berlin Wall to Tahrir Square, music has, historically, brought people together to make peace not war.


* In 1999, Zubin Mehta held a month-long event devoted to music as a force for healing the wounds of the Holocaust. Beneath the hill where the Nazis ran the Buchenwald Camp, Mehta conducted more than 170 musicians from the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Israeli Philharmonic. This was the first concert on German soil by the Israeli Philharmonic. The two orchestras played Gustav Mahler's Resurrection.

* Also in 1999, Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli pianist and conductor born during WWII, spent a month holding a workshop of more than 70 young musicians from Israel and Arab countries in Weimar, forming a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. In the early '90s, Barenboim ran into Palestinian writer and professor Edward Said, a chance encounter that turned into a long friendship. This led to Barenboim's first concert at West Bank at the Palestinian Birzeit University in February 1999.

* On 19 July 1988, Bruce Springsteen played a four-hour concert for 300,000 Germans at the Berlin Wall. A new book, Rocking the Wall, claims that the concert ignited the spark that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.


* In July 1967, after the Six Day War, Leonard Bernstein conducted a concert to celebrate the unification of Jerusalem. Held on the slopes of Mount Scopus, the programme included Mendelssohn and Mahler.

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