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Under the auspices of the United Nations, an unusual concert was performed on May 3, 2011. With Daniel Barenboim conducting, members of the Berliner Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Berlin, the orchestra of La Scala Milan, the Orchestre de Paris, and the Vienna Philharmonic (concertmaster Rainer Honeck, Clemens Hellsberg and Dieter Flury) performed Mozart's Serenade in G major, KV 525 ("Eine kleine Nachtmusik") and the Symphony in G major, KV 550, in the city of Gaza.
"We have come here to break down the cultural blockade and to demonstrate that there are people in Europe who care about you," remarked the UN Peace Ambassador Barenboim in an impressive speech made at the end of the concert given at the Al Mata'haf Museum in Gaza City for around 300 invited guests, among whom were many young people. He added, "I am a Palestinian and Israeli citizen and by my example, one can see that mutual understanding is possible." Under this premise Barenboim, who has long been involved in striving for peace in the Near East conflict and makes a forward-looking contribution with his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, an ensemble composed of young people from Israel and the Arab world, called for Palestinians and Israelis to reach a peaceful agreement for a two-state solution.
Along with Daniel Barenboim and his wife Elena, 26 members from the European orchestras which most closely work with this artist, flew by charter from Berlin via Vienna to El Arish, an airport which has long been closed by the Egyptian military but was opened for this occasion. Following a rehearsal on the evening of May 2nd in El Arish, the orchestra entered Gaza at the Egyptian check point Rafah.
The Deutsche Presseagentur wrote "Until the last minute it was unclear whether the event would take place. After the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, resistance to the concert surfaced within Hamas. Barenboim negotiated until late in the night and finally permission to enter the territory was granted. The performance took place under extreme security precautions. The musicians were transported with a UN convoy from Rafah to Gaza City. Heavily armed police guarded the road and held up traffic along the route. Following the concert, the group had to quickly leave the cultural center in order to depart Gaza as soon as possible."
The concert, which took place as the result of an invitation of the UN-Mission in Palestine as well as NGOs, made an unforgettable impression on all those who experienced it. Mozart's music was acclaimed as was Daniel Barenboim's appeal for peace, whereby he explained that all those who came together for this orchestra freely accepted his invitation in order to align themselves with him in his endeavours for a permanent peaceful settlement.