Arts & Humanities Campus News

Multicultural chamber ensemble to take Performing Arts Center stage

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra draws young musicians from countries in the Middle East with Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Spanish heritage. (Photo by Peter Adamik)

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of Seville, Spain, promotes coexistence and intercultural dialogue as an alternative to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It draws young musicians from countries in the Middle East with Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Spanish heritage.

The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble, appearing Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Hodgson Concert Hall, is an eight-member subset of the orchestra led by violinist Michael Barenboim, who has appeared as a soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony. The group will play string music in various combinations by Ravel, Dvorak, Hindemith and Enescu.

“The idea of the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble,” Barenboim said, “is to bring people from the countries of the Middle East together based on equality, and on a more individual level, so that each one’s role is more enhanced.”

The musicians taking part in this tour of the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble are Barenboim; Mohamed Hiber, David Strongin and Samir Obaido (violins); Miriam Manasherov and Sindy Mohamed (violas); and Astrig Siranossian and Assif Binness (cellos).

“This was truly a concert of friends, and although the blend and the technique were overall flawless, there was a feeling of ease, more like watching a jam session, rather than a rigid ensemble in a formal concert hall,” a Palm Beach Post critic wrote after a 2020 appearance by the group. “The relaxed atmosphere added a layer of energy and intimacy to the performance that invited the audience to consider the message of unity at the core of the ensemble’s raison d’être.”

Barenboim’s 2011 performance of Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto with Pierre Boulez in the Cologne Philharmonie was the beginning of a remarkable career. Following this debut, he has since performed the Schoenberg concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic under Daniel Barenboim, the Chicago Symphony under Asher Fisch, the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and the Berlin Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko. Barenboim regularly gives solo recitals in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, such as Wigmore Hall in London, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Sydney Opera House and Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.

Barenboim has premiered numerous new works by composers such as Jörg Widmann, Kareem Rouston and many others. He is a professor for violin and chamber music at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, and has been the academy’s dean since 2020.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barenboim has performed with numerous orchestras. The 2022-2023 season has him touring South Korea with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn, as well as performances all across Europe.

Barenboim’s first solo album featured compositions by Bach and Bartók as well as Boulez’s “Anthèmes” 1 & 2. In 2018, there followed a CD with works by Tartini, Berio, Paganini and Sciarrino. For Deutsche Grammophon, Barenboim has recorded the Mozart piano quartets and trios as well as the complete Beethoven piano trios, together with Kian Soltani and Daniel Barenboim.

This performance is supported by Sandra Strother Hudson and Cecil C. Hudson. There is a pre-performance talk in Ramsey Concert Hall at 6:45 p.m. with free admission.

Three ways to get tickets

  1. Purchase tickets online at
  2. Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  3. Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)

Ticket buyers can create a series of three performances for 20% off. Single tickets begin at $25, and UGA student tickets are just $10. Parking is free.

To learn more about all UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit