Named after Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra transcends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by uniting young musicians from Israel and various Arab nations, to foster mutual understanding in a world marred by political and cultural strife. At the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s 20th anniversary in 2019, the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble was founded by concertmaster Michael Barenboim, to bring the unique artistry and personality of the orchestra’s players into an intimate chamber music format. In their much anticipated Hong Kong debut, the ensemble presents two contrasting programmes to coincide with Tai Kwun’s Prison Yard Festival 2023.
The first evening features atmospheric numbers by pre-eminent American modernist composer Elliott Carter (1908–2012), a two-time Pulitzer awardee with a prolonged career exceeding 75 years. His unwavering creativity is at full display with such works as Figment IV (2007), amongst a series of six delicate miniatures resembling Berio’s Sequenzas; Au Quai (2002), the title of which was inspired by Arnold Schoenberg’s short story To the Wharfs; and Duettino (2008), dedicated to friend and fellow composer Milton Babbitt, and composed shortly before his 100th birthday.
Interspersing Carter’s late gems are two chamber staples from the standard repertoire, including Fanny Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E-flat major (1834), a compelling Romantic work buried in the oblivion of time only to be re-discovered in 1988. Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major, Op. 20 (1799), one of his most popular works during his lifetime.
The second evening features a delightful all-Schubert programme, the works of which display influences from Beethoven, whom Schubert admired deeply. In composing his String Trio in B-flat major, D. 581 (1817), Schubert took Beethoven’s latter trios as model, which adopted a four-movement form like the string quartet. Schubert’s biggest chamber works, the Octet in F major, D. 803 (1824), expands from the scope of Beethoven’s Septet with the addition of an extra second violin.
Ticket holder(s) of “West-Eastern Divan Ensemble (Hong Kong Debut)” can present a valid ticket (electronic or physical) to attend the Tai Kwun Conversations without registration. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to be part of such an inspiring initiative on 20 Nov in JC Cube.