West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and more at MFA

BarenboimThe Boston Jewish Film Festival and The MFA Film Program are pleased
present two special music documentaries at the MFA’s Remis Auditorium
on Sunday, June 3: Knowledge Is the Beginning at 1:30 pm and The
Ramallah Concert
at 3:45 pm. Both of these films chronicle the
formation and livelihood of The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded
by conductor and Pianist Daniel Barenboim and writer Edward Said as a
way of promoting peace in the Middle East through collaborative
artistic effort. Daniel Barenboim is featured as the conductor of the
orchestra in both films.

Conversation and discussion following Knowledge Is the Beginning with
Matthew Guerrieri, composer and music critic, and Amir Milstein,
flutist who co-led Bustan Abraham, a world-music ensemble of Jewish
and Arab musicians that combines Eastern and Western musical traditions.

Tickets are $8 for MFA and Boston Jewish Film Fetival (BJFF) members,
seniors, and students; $9 for general admission. Reduced price for
both shows: $14, $15. Tickets can be purchased online at
Or, in advance, by calling the MFA’s Remis Auditorium Box Office at
617-369-3306 (no same-day phone orders). Tickets can also be
purchased in person at the MFA’s Remis Auditorium Box Office.

Knowledge Is the Beginning
Sun, Jun 3, 1:30 pm
Knowledge Is the Beginning, by Paul Smaczny (Germany, 2005, 90 min.
Video). What does it sound like when peace becomes audible? As a
metaphor for what could be achieved in the Middle East and based on
the notion that “music is the language of peace,” conductor and pianist
Daniel Barenboim and comparative literature professor Edward Said
brought together Arab and Israeli musicians, along with a handful of
other artists, to perform in Weimar on the 250th anniversary of the
birth of Goethe. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a name derived from
a collection of poems by Goethe, today embraces eighty Arab and Israeli
musicians ages thirteen to twenty-six. Director Paul Smaczny follows
the unique musical collaboration, dedicated to furthering the cause of
peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, bringing together young
musicians from both sides of the divide: Syrians, Jordanians,
Egyptians, Palestinian’s, and Israeli’s.

The Ramallah Concert
Sun, Jun 3, 3:45 pm
The Ramallah Concert co-directed by Michael Beyer and Ayellet Heller,
(Germany, 2005, 112 min). Recorded live in the Cultural Palace in
Ramallah, Palestine, on August 21st, 2005, this concert on film
showcases the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing Sinfonia
concertante in E flat major, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Symphony No. 5
in C minor, op. 36, by Ludwig van Beethoven; and Nimrod from Enigma
Variations, op. 36, by Edward Elgar. As a prelude to the concert the
viewer is given the unique and unprecedented experience of witnessing
this significant cultural event, taking place in Ramallah and
signifying the attempt to heal and unify with music. Mariam Said, the
widow of Edward Said is also recognized in the film for her husband’s
achievement in making this project possible.