Beyond Borders

More than a reading, more than a concert.

Elena Cheah, cellist and writer, explores the everyday lives and inner conflicts of young people across the Middle East in this performance of solo cello works and readings from her book An Orchestra Beyond Borders: Voices of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Cheah’s book is a collection of narrative portraits of the young musicians of the orchestra, which was founded in 1999 by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim in order to promote meaningful dialogue between Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs from the surrounding countries. More than a concert and more than a 

An_Orchestra_Beyond_Borders_Coverreading, this performance by Cheah incorporates stories from her own book of inner struggle, loss, hope and adventure, and works for solo cello by composers from Bach to George Crumb to the young Israeli Lior Navok. The music serves both to intensify the emotional content of these narratives and, sometimes, to ease the pain of what has been said. Music and storytelling reflect and complete one another in this performance that adds depth to our factual knowledge of the
political realities of war and conflict in the Middle East. Beyond Borders coaxes us out of the horror-struck numbness of the spectator and invites us into the human realm of understanding and compassion.

Invaluable — and rather inspiring…Cheah collects a score of testimonies to show how strangers raised in fear and enmity can set about “shucking off the notions of ‘us’ against ‘them’.” 

– Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

Booking: elenacheah@me.com (program available in English and German)