Projects in Israel and Palestine

While the best-known initiative supported by the Daniel Barenboim Foundation is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, it also supports a wide range of Music and Education projects in the Middle East. The Daniel Barenboim Stiftung believes that music has much to give to this region and strives to support a musical culture that will become a constituent part of its emerging civil societies. A welcome side-effect is not only to increase contacts between Israelis and Palestinians, but also between Palestinians living on the West Bank and in Israel. In addition, the Stiftung aims to provide talented musicians from Israel and Palestine a window to the world by supporting their further education in world-class academies and conservatories abroad. For years, the Junta de Andalucia and the Spanish Government have been faithful and generous supporters of these activities through the Fundación Barenboim-Said in Seville. Additional support is provided through the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA.


Daniel Barenboim has been supporting music and education in Israel and Palestine for many years. The projects on the West Bank are coordinated through the Barenboim-Said Music Center that maintains a facility with offices and classrooms in Ramallah and serves as a home base for its 10-15 full-time instrument teachers.

Since 2003, a number of projects for all ages from pre-school to conservatory level have been realised in Israel and the West Bank. They have expanded in both geographical coverage and number of participants. The number of students actively taught through these projects has grown to more than 250 and continues to rise. They reach a far greater audience with their concerts and other public events.

The Edward Said Kindergarten, a joint-venture with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, opened its doors in Ramallah in October 2004. Instrumental and singing lessons are given at the Center’s premises in Ramallah and at partner institutions such as Al-Kamandjati or the Friends School of Ramallah.

In addition to their regular teaching activities, the teachers and advanced students of the Foundation regularly perform concerts and introductory workshops in schools, youth clubs and community centres throughout the West Bank, e.g. in Bethlehem or Jenin.

One of the first events organised by the Foundation was the “Concert for Two Peoples” held in Jerusalem on 28 March 2008 in which Daniel Barenboim appeared both as conductor and soloist with an orchestra of young Israelis and Palestinians.

February 2009 marked the beginning of a new concert series in Ramallah initiated by Daniel Barenboim personally. The first concert was given by Elisabeth Leonskaja, followed by performances by Emmanuel Pahud and Saleem Abboud Ashkar. The Ramallah concerts have since become a fixture in the cultural life of the West Bank.

In July 2009, students from the various projects supported by the Foundation came together as an orchestra and choir to perform an opera project, The Sultana of Cadiz. The piece, a pastiche of works by Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, played to a full house during its run at the Ramallah Cultural Palace. It was the first-ever opera production to be shown on the West Bank.


Through the Barenboim-Said Conservatory in Nazareth and its spin-off school in Jaffa, a total of currently about 280 students receive a music education at all levels. Increasingly, students of the Conservatory also play internationally with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

In September 2006, the Barenboim-Said Music Conservatory in Nazareth opened its doors through the help and financial support of the Fundación Barenboim-Said, the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA and the Daniel Barenboim Stiftung (in cooperation with the local partner Orpheus). In the same year, the conservatory accepted 25 students of violin/viola, cello, piano and oud, taught by a mix of Israeli and Palestinian music teachers. In the last academic year, oboe and horn could be added; now about 120 students are taught at the conservatory at an advanced level. The conservatory is run by Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, a violinist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra whose vision was supported by, and whose music education was subsequently also funded through, the foundation.

In addition to its own music lessons, the Conservatory works closely with local institutions such as the Wasfei School, where over 70 second grade students (7-8 years old) receive weekly recorder lessons.  Another initiative is the Wind Orchestra that provides weekly instrumental lessons for 50 students in the Massar and Wasfei Schools during school hours (25 out of the 50 students receive individual lessons while the others get their lessons in small groups). Instruments taught are recorder, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone and baritone, alt and tenor saxophones.

In September 2009, the Barenboim-Said Conservatory in Jaffa opened its doors for currently 25 students between the ages of seven and nine years old. The Conservatory will provide Violin, Cello and Piano lessons and the teaching program will include two individual lessons and one theory lesson per week. Chamber music concerts will be regularly performed by the Teachers, those concerts aim to increase the awareness-amongst both the students and their parents, of the important role classical music can play in the society and demonstrate the level of playing which could eventually be achieved. The Concerts and the actual teaching will take place in the internationally renowned Saraya Arab-Hebrew Theater in Jaffa’s historic center.

( / 19.02.2012)

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