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Conductor Barenboim aiding Mideast peace

BERLIN, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- German conductor Daniel Barenboim says his participation in the West-Eastern Divan represented his support for peace in the Middle East.

By co-founding the youth orchestra in 1999 with late academic Edward Said, Barenboim said he was trying to bring young musicians of Palestinian, Egyptian and Israeli descent a chance to find a common bond, The New York Times reported Sunday.

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"The idea was to give each person a forum to articulate his or her thoughts and beliefs in front of the other," he said. "I grew up in Israel in the '50s, when it was not an occupying power."

In addition to his involvement with the international orchestra, Barenboim is to take part in a series of New York performances and is ready to release a collection of his personal essays, "Music Quickens Times."

But Barenboim insists his multi-pronged efforts merely represent his dedication to music.

"I don't feel I have an abnormal schedule," he told the Times. "What would I have done without the recital yesterday? I would have gotten up at 10 instead of 9:30. I would have played the piano here at home instead of there."

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