MILAN (AP) — One of Daniel Barenboim's focuses after leaving the role of music director for Milanese opera house La Scala next month will be opening an academy for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian musicians in Berlin.
The Argentine-born Israeli conductor said Friday that besides training the next generation of young musicians from the region, he hopes the academy can form human connections that can one day help stanch the worsening Middle East conflict.
"I am convinced, and this is why I make so much effort, that the only thing we can do is to find ways to create contacts between human beings, without politics," Barenboim told reporters. "Politics doesn't work, because this is a human conflict. There are two peoples who don't want to live on the same ground."
Barenboim said he discussed the conflict during a meeting last week with the Argentine-born Pope Francis, focusing "on the very urgent need to find a solution."
The academy will open in Berlin in 2016, in a building designed by Frank Gehry, which is being constructed next to the Staatsoper, where Barenboim is music director.
Barenboim's engagement at La Scala ends next month with Beethoven's "Fidelio," which opens the season Dec. 7, and a cycle of piano sonatas, closing what he called "nine wonderful years."
Barenboim arrived at La Scala in 2005 as principal guest conductor and took the role of musical director in 2011, while maintaining his roles at the Berlin Staatsoper and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. He will be replaced by Riccardo Chailly.
Barenboim said he resisted taking the title musical director at La Scala due to his other commitments, and that he leaves with the feeling of having wanted to do more, but "not bitterness, or delusion."
"I have to say very simply: I fell in love with that which I heard," from La Scala's orchestra and chorus, Barenboim said.