Mideast musicians sound note of peace
By CNN's Jeff Flock
(CNN) -- Former Israeli soldier Shai Wosner and his Palestinian friend Saleem Aboud Ashkar are in perfect synch.
Both are pianists in an unusual ensemble -- maestro Daniel Barenboim's vision to create an orchestra of people the world sees as enemies literally playing from the same page.
"When you are born into a situation of war, it is very easy to forget the alternative and forget what was there before and what there could be after," says Wosner.
"It's a kind of preview into the future of how could it be if we had peace. It's kind of like saying, 'Look at what beautiful things we could do together,'" adds Ashkar.
Barenboim, musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is himself an Argentinian-born Jew. For the past three years, he has brought together Arab and Israeli musicians.
"My point of view is very simple. I think war is no option," says Barenboim. "Trying to play the same note at the same time, with the same loudness, with the same color, with the same amount of joy, everything the same ... this is a fantastic affair."
It's also a stepping stone for the young musicians involved.
Violinist Mina Zikira is 23 and from Cairo. "When you work with a person like maestro Barenboim, he makes you work hard," she says. "It takes all your energy ... and anything will follow after this."
After one gathering of the musicians earlier this year, there was more violence in Wosner and Ashkar's respective homelands: a Palestinian attack, and Israeli retaliation.
A few weeks later, on September 11, the terror attacks in the United States brought new focus on the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
Says Ashkar: "We cannot wait for the peace treaties on paper to happen, to occur, for us to start to build the real peace ... the real cultural dialogue between people."
Wosner grew up in Tel Aviv, Ashkar 20 miles away in Nazareth. But what their cultures have kept apart, music has brought together ... at least for a moment.
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