Knowledge is the Beginning
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space
Q&A session after the film with Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Israeli pianist Shai Wozner, and former Barenboim-Said Foundation Press and Communications Manager Nicole Foster.
2005. Germany. Paul Smaczny. 90 min. Color.
International Emmy Award: Arts Programming
DOCFEST Palermo: Award for the Doc of highest cultural Value
San Diego Jewish Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Doc
Banff World Television Festival: Best Arts Doc
"This is not a simple feel-good story...Rather the film is almost an instruction manual of how much cultural good can be done in the worst of political times." - The Boston Globe
Knowledge Is the Beginning is the story of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, where young Arabs and Israelis perform and live side by side. It is a film about what music can do; the way it can transcend cultural barriers, bring people together, defeat prejudice and overcome religious and political differences. It also demonstrates that the language of music makes it possible to explore common ground. Knowledge Is the Beginning’s filmmaker Paul Smaczny chronicles the Orchestra’s evolution from the Divan’s inception in August 1999 to its concert in Ramallah on August 21, 2005.
About the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said in 1999, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra brings together musicians from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt – joined by a number of musicians from Iran, Turkey and Spain – to perform music and promote mutual understanding, non-violence and reconciliation. The orchestra regularly appears at leading international music festivals and concert halls and has given historically unprecedented performances in Ramallah, in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and most recently at Castel Gandolfo at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has hailed the orchestra as "a source of inspiration and a model for the Middle East and the rest of the world," and Ban Ki-moon named Maestro Barenboim a UN Messenger of Peace for his work with the Divan.
In November 2012, Maestro Barenboim announced the formation of the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin, Germany, which will upon its opening in 2015 translate the experience of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra into a permanent, year-round institution for young musicians from the Middle East, building on the legacy of Edward W. Said’s work. In addition to music instruction, students will receive a core curriculum in arts and humanities. Housed in a building adjacent to the Staatsoper, the Academy will feature a concert hall designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in New York
Screening of Knowledge is the Beginning at Peter Norton Symphony Space
January 30, 31; February 2, 3
Beethoven symphony cycle
Miller Theatre, Columbia University
This event is the first of a series of events in 2013 remembering Edward W. Said on the tenth year of his passing. The event will feature a conversation between Daniel Barenboim and Ara Guzelimian (Provost and Dean, The Juilliard School) and performances by Barenboim and an ensemble of the Orchestra of works by Pierre Boulez and Franz Schubert.
The Barenboim-Said Foundation thanks Symphony Space for its gracious partnership, which makes this screening possible.