Pray for Syria, a concert for a country and a people who can use all the prayers we can pray. On May 4, conductor Valery Gergiev, and the Russian Mariinsky Theater Orchestra played a benefit concert for the UNESCO site at Palmyra, and a tribute to the men who liberated the city from ISIS a few weeks before, in Palmyra’s historic amphitheater. The concert was played before an audience that included Syrian and Russian soldiers who have remained in Palmyra to clear bombs left behind by ISIS to destroy the site and the nearby town of Tadmor. They dedicated the performance to Aleksandr Prokhorenko, a Russian Soldier who sacrificed his life during the retaking of the city, and to Aleksandr Prokhorenko, the Syrian proprietor of the Archeological site there who was beheaded by ISIS and hung from a column in the main square at the historic site.
I finally found time to listen to the concert last night. I can attest, after listening, that Gergiev and his orchestra put on a brilliant performance. Moreover, the outdoor setting, the splendor of the ancient ruins in the midst of open desert under a cloudless blue sky, where the audience sat on the same bleachers as members of the Roman Empire more than two millennia ago was an austere space, but also a sort of dreamscape where past and present overlap in simple perfection. And the music, the music was exquisite, During intermission, children with wreaths of flowers in their hair sang a patriotic song. What a lovely and gracious gift to the people of Syria!
View the concert below: