Daniel Barenboim, the world-renowned conductor and pianist, led a peace concert performed by the West -Eastern Divan Orchestra in Imjingak near Korea's Demilitarized Zone on the country's Independence Day.
Part of the WEDO's tour in Seoul, this finale concert was organized in efforts to bring "understanding, patience, courage and curiosity to listen to one another," the 69-year old conductor said in a video message prior to Monday's concert amid high tensions between the two Koreas. The WEDO performed the Beethoven symphony cycle during its three-day concert in Seoul, culminating in No. 9 in D minor "Choral" at the Korean border.
Beethoven's 9th symphony, also known as "Ode to Joy," was chosen to deliver a message of peace and "strength of humanity," according to Barenboim as Beethoven composed this widely celebrated piece while losing his hearing abilities.
Another goal of the concert is to encourage dialogue between the two Koreas. The maestro explained in a press conference that music may not be a problem solver, but can be a source of passion and interest that facilitates dialogue. "The lack of dialogue will not bring anything good either to the South or the North," he said.
Tensions between the two Koreas has been high since North Korea's deadly attacks on South's navy corvette Cheonan and the island of Yeonpyeong.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, composed of about 100 young musicians from Israel, Palestine and other Arab countries, was co-founded by Barenboim and Edward Said, the late Palestinian literary scholar in 1999.
The orchestra has performed in areas struck by political divide such as Ramallah, Palestine as well as in Gaza strip with members of other prominent orchestras. After playing in Ramallah, Barenboim received honorary Palestinian citizenship, becoming the only individual to hold Israeli and Palestinian citizenship.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Barenboim colored his last performance in South Korea with four noted Korean soloists that he hand-picked: soprano Sumi Jo, mezzo-soprano Lee Ah-Kyung, tenor Park Ji-Min and bass Maurice Hamm and three major Korean choirs.
About 10,000 people attended the concert.