Orchestra of Syrian Musicians to perform in Istanbul

Orchestra of Syrian Musicians to perform in Istanbul

The Royal Theater Carre in Amsterdam, which reflects the air of the end of 19th century when it was constructed (and renovated in 2004, remaining loyal to its original state) was jammed-packed on Thursday night, June 23.

Africa Express, a musical collective of productive genius of world music Damon Albarn, set on the road that night, along with stars like Paul Weller, Rachid Taha, Sechou Keita, Tala, Bassekou Kouyate and Eslam Jawaad. They will be in Istanbul today, June 27.

A chain of miracles

The real passengers of Africa Express are the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. This is a concert that was realized due to the fact that Albarn pursued his Syrian musician friends, with whom he has recorded songs and went on tours.

The reunification of the orchestra, whose members had been scattered around the world, dispersed by the war, was only possible thanks to the insistence of Albarn, as well as some miracles.

Over the course of passing years, some hung on to the lives by making music in exile from their homeland, while some lost their family and others their friends.

Music makes peace

Obviously this orchestra is composed of those who stand on different sides of the war in Syria, those who read what is happening differently. Yet, when they got together after overcoming various bureaucratic hurdles, roads, years and prejudices and gathered in Amsterdam for rehearsals, taking refuge under the roof of music, the first thing they did was abolish their individual barriers.

Among the concerts that I have seen, none has come close to this one in terms of emotional intensity.

The anxious, excited and full of longing musicians were welcomed by crowds who were equally excited.

While Syria came back to life through song, there were many among the spectators as well as musicians who shed tears. The “Syria, Syria” slogans played within the emotional setting of the “serious and distanced” Royal Theater Carre.

The platform saw stars like Albarn, Taha and Weller, one after the other, but the real star was the Syrian musicians.

Albarn, the architect of the six-concert project, watched the concert from right next to the platform, even if he had no role in the performance, with joy and enthusiasm. 

In the small “after party” following the concert I had the opportunity to personally witness his emotions when I presented myself, saying, “I am the journalist from Turkey who interviewed you last month by phone.” Otherwise he would not cuddle me instead of shaking my hand. 

The performance by Albarn, the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and their famous guests, which is very special in all senses and very invaluable in terms of music, will be in Istanbul within the framework of the Istanbul Jazz Festival. 

It is not known yet who the other performers will be, but the group Ceza from Turkey will be among them. 

Let me remind you that around 300 Syrians will be among the spectators. With the support of Turkey’s famous holdings, they will be able to ease their feeling of homesickness. Those who can should not miss this concert, which will be remembered for years.