Barenboim "proud" to lead Berlin anniversary concert

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The Independent Culture

The conductor Daniel Barenboim said Wednesday he felt proud and honoured to be leading an orchestra in Berlin, 20 years after staging a free concert to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Barenboim said he felt the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the wall's destruction on November 9 marked its passage into history.

The Israeli-Argentinian conductor said: "On November 9 (1989) I was in Berlin to conduct the Berlin Symphony Orchestra at a recording at the Jesus Christ Church in Dahlem (south west Berlin), and when I arrived the musicians were all excited.

"They wanted to give a free concert for East Germans, so that's what we did on the evening of the 12th."

"So I am all the more proud and honoured to be conducting again in Berlin, 20 years on."

Aside from Barenboim's concert at the Berlin Opera, the German authorities are planning a two-hour "Festival of Freedom" at the Brandenburg Gate, which will end with a firework display set to music.

French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will speak at the event, along with key figures from the period including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

US President Barack Obama will miss the event because of a trip to Asia, and his place will be taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.