A musical message of hope and peace as Syrian refugees put on classical concert at BOZAR one year after the attacks in Brussels
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A musical message of hope and peace as Syrian refugees put on classical concert at BOZAR one year after the attacks in Brussels

Talented musicians forced to flee their homes in war-torn Syria, will come together in Brussels for a special concert one year on from Belgium’s horrific terror attacks. The Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, comprising more than 30 refugees who sought asylum in Belgium and across Europe, will play at BOZAR in Brussels on March 21 –  in what promises to be a moving musical message of hope and peace for a country still in shock a year after the terrorist attacks at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek Metro Station. The concert will be held on the eve of the first anniversary of the bombings which claimed more than 30 innocent lives and left hundreds more injured.

Fittingly, the concert is entitled ‘Salaam Syria’. Salaam is not only a greeting in Syria but a word meaning peace which will be a significant message in the fight against war and terrorism. The Syrian refugees will be joining forces with members of the National Orchestra of Belgium performing work by Syrian as well as Western composers as part of the annual two-week Karafestival supported by the Brussels Capital Region.

The concert, conducted by Ghassan Alaboud and Ivan Meylemans, will feature solos by Lubana Al Quntar, Kinan Azmeh on clarinet, violinist Jehad Jazbeh and Olsi Leka on cello. There will also be songs from children’s choir, ‘Shanti Shanti’, as a supporting act before the concert.

Alexander Jocqué, Dramaturge of Karafestival, said the concert was a symbolic gesture of positivity and hope. ‘It isn’t a political concert but a human one symbolising open mindedness and solidarity,’ he told The Brussels Times. ‘There is so much negativity surrounding refugees across Europe at the moment but this concert will be about solidarity and reconciliation’. He added that the concert was a clear sign that the West can work together with the Middle East through music and art, a fitting symbol of peace in sharp contrast with the appalling attacks in Brussels and Paris.

The concert will also function as the kick-off of the project “The Sound of Home”, giving a helping hand to young refugees wanting to study music in Belgium. ‘We feel that music is a great way for integration,’ added Mr Jocqué. “The Sound of Home” is sponsored by both public and private partners of Klarafestival.

Founder member of the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, Raed Jazbeh, sought asylum in Germany after being forced to leave his home in war-ravaged Aleppo. He found his musical compatriots, living across Europe, mostly by the help of Facebook. Most of the members of the orchestra, play with borrowed instruments. Raed himself, plays a borrowed 170-year-old double bass. He described music as being part of ‘Syria’s soul’. He said by establishing the orchestra, he was attempting to save a big part of Syria’s 7,000 year-old culture. He described music as ‘the beautiful face’ of Syria and though he and his fellow musicians have made a new life across Europe, it was vital to ‘save what we can save of Syria.’

Raed described sitting down to play with his compatriots was ‘like coming home to a big family,’ enabling him to enjoy a piece of the home he was forced to leave behind.

Tickets and more info about the concert can be found on: www.klarafestival.be

Kim Clayton
The Brussels Times

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