Bringing together young musicians from Palestine, Israel and the other countries of the Middle East, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is both one of the most acclaimed youth orchestras in the world and a powerful ray of hope in a war-torn region. Founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999, it aims to promote Arab-Israeli understanding through music. In "An Orchestra Beyond Borders", Elena Cheah, a professional musician and assistant to Daniel Barenboim, explores the orchestra's journey through the remarkable stories of its members. Through the prism of the orchestra, these youthful testimonies are a window into the life of the region. Together, they express the musicians' ambitions and hopes, their varied and conflicting views on life and politics, and above all the orchestra's transformative ability to create an atmosphere of musical cooperation across political lines.
ELENA CHEAH was principal cellist of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Staatskapelle Berlin, before becoming professor of cello at the Academy for Orchestral Studies for the Barenboim-Said Foundation, Seville, Spain. Elena plays in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and runs workshops for its members. Born in Pittsburgh, Elena currently lives in Berlin.