Academy for Musicians from the Middle East

Topping-out celebration in Berlin Academy for Musicians from the Middle East

As of 2016, the Barenboim-Said Academy is to train young musicians from the Middle East. The topping-out celebration has now been held in Berlin. Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters underlined the importance of this cultural reconciliation project.

Topping-out celebration at the Barenboim-Said Academy

As of October 2016 up to 100 young scholarship-holders can enrol for a three-year degree course in music

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bilan

Sixteen years ago the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with the Palestinian American writer, professor and literary critic Edward Said, who passed away in 2003. Since the orchestra was founded, Arab and Israeli musicians have played together for six weeks every year, making a stance for peaceful coexistence.

This is an idea that will now find a home in the Barenboim Said Academy. As of late 2016 up to 100 Israeli and Arab music students will be able to enrol in a three-year degree course. The curriculum will embrace not only instrumental classes music but also philosophy, history and literature.

Monika Grütters says, "Peace is possible"

Minister of State Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and conductor Daniel Barenboim at the topping-out celebration for the Barenboim-Said Academy

Monika Grütters and Daniel Barenboim at the topping-out celebration for the Barenboim-Said Academy

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bilan

"Today at the future Barenboim Said Academy we are celebrating a forward-looking cultural reconciliation project, which allows us in Berlin to make a small contribution to the peace process in the Middle East," said Minister of State Monika Grütters.

Here the young musicians, shielded in many cases from the cacophony of war in their home countries, can listen to one another, make music together, respect one another and carry out into the world the message that "Peace is possible", declared Monika Grütters at the topping-out ceremony.

Concert hall designed by Frank Gehry

The new academy is taking shape in what used to be the stage depot of the state opera house. As well as rehearsal rooms, teaching rooms and offices, the Academy will house a concert hall that can sit more than 620 people. It has been designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, and is in future also to be available for other events.

The Academy will cost a total of about 33.7 million euros. Of this sum, 20 million euros is being provided by the German government through the budget of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Private donors have also contributed generously.

And the German government is to continue its engagement. Minister of State Monika Grütters announced that the government will be underwriting a share of the running costs of the Academy. "This Academy, whose importance will radiate around the world, belongs in Berlin. It will become a unique part of the rich tapestry of our cultural life here," declared the Minister of State with conviction.