Israeli conductor Barenboim may take baton to Tehran

Israeli conductor Barenboim may take baton to Tehran

Report that Iran may host Berlin orchestra for performance during Merkel visit strikes sour note in Israel

Daniel Barenboim (photo credit: CC-BY-Alkan, Wikimedia Commons)
Daniel Barenboim (photo credit: CC-BY-Alkan, Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli-Argentinian composer and conductor Daniel Barenboim may lead a Berlin symphony orchestra in a Tehran performance later this year.

Music insider website reported that the 72-year-old Barenboim, who is known for his attempts to make peace through music, may conduct his Berlin Staatskapelle in Tehran during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s state visit in October.

Bahram Djamali, the head of music at Iran’s ministry of culture, told the German EuroNews on Sunday that ministry officials were in talks with the German orchestra to finalize a performance date.

The report, which was not confirmed, was ill-received in Israel, where Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev took to social media Wednesday to condemn Barenboim.

“Barenboim draws an anti-Israel line and makes sure to slander Israel while using culture to leverage his political opinions against Israel,” Regev wrote on Facebook.

The Israeli-Argentinian conductor is an outspoken critic of Israeli policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians and Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

Regev denounced Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, and called the performance a “mistake” by Merkel.

“I believe Germany should do the right thing and cancel the performance along with its conductor,” she added.

MK Miri Regev participates in Knesset committee in May. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/FLASH90)
Culture Minister Miri Regev (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Regev said the performance damaged Israeli efforts to counter the nuclear agreement reached last month between Iran and world powers, and said a show in Tehran would only serve to further efforts to delegitimize Israel..

During its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s the Tehran orchestra hosted performances by famous musicians, including the renowned Jewish violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin.

After the 1979 Iranian revolution however, clerics outlawed all pre-revolutionary music and the orchestra only played a handful of concerts in the decades following as a result.

Earlier this year, Tehran symphony orchestra musicians took to the stage in the Iranian capital to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, reflecting Rouhani’s softened approach to Western art and culture.

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