Shostakovich for the Children of Syria Set for Carnegie Hall, 1/13

By: Dec. 13, 2013
Music for Life International Inc. presents Shostakovich for the Children of Syria, a benefit concert of Dmitri Shostakovich's monumental Seventh Symphony, organized and led by Singapore-born Indian conductor George Mathew. The concert will be presented in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall on January 13, 2014 at 8pm. Shostakovich for the Children of Syria will take place one week before the Geneva II conference on Syria convened by the United Nations, scheduled to begin on January 22, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Net proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, sole beneficiary of the concert.

Shostakovich for the Children of Syria was launched in April 2013 in the presence of H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the Residence of H.E. Ambassador ChristIan Wenaweser of Liechtenstein to the United Nations. Music for Life International presented an international concert, Panamá por los Niños de Siria (Panama for the Children of Syria), at the United Nations Hub in Panama City, co-presented by UNICEF Panama, UNICEF TACRO, UNDP LAC, and the City of Knowledge Foundation on 4th June 2013.

Shostakovich for the Children of Syria will bring together many of the world's finest orchestral musicians. Principal artists will gather from the New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Buffalo Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as well as their colleagues from other international orchestras and ensembles; students and faculty of The Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, Curtis Institute, and other major music academies. Elmira Darvarova, Former Concertmaster of the MET Orchestra, will serve as Concertmaster.

Speaking about the concert, Artistic Director George Mathew noted, "Dmitri Shostakovich's searing Seventh Symphony 'Leningrad' was written during its own composer's experience as an internal refugee while surviving the twin ordeals of Stalin's oppression and the urban catastrophe, which was the Nazi army's 900-day siege of Leningrad. There are uncanny resonances between the context of Shostakovich's monumental symphony and the Syrian Civil War, now past the tragically kindred milestone of 1000 days. The Leningrad Symphony bears witness to the complex vortex of oppression and war, bombs from earth and sky, the explosions, the deathly silence afterwards, the waves of numbing grief and loss, and ultimately the resilience of human beings in the face of violence and death."

Mathew observed, "As artists and concerned citizens, this concert is our call to the international community for immediate and substantial action to end the conflict, and to provide the resources and support to enable the Syrian refugees, especially the children and their families, to rebuild their lives and communities. The Leningrad Symphony is also a testimonial to the fundamental goodness and ultimate triumph of the human spirit in the face of the most horrendous and bestial violence of human being on human being."

Shostakovich himself described this Seventh Symphony as "about all the forms of terror, slavery, the bondage of the spirit" and as "the victory of light over darkness, of humanity over barbarism, of reason over reaction." We present it as a call for hope that resonates in the most human ways with the plight of the millions of our fellow human beings affected by the conflict in Syria. There is no more fitting way for us in the musical community to give voice to the millions of men, women and children affected by this tragic conflict. Shostakovich's music, growing directly out of the composer's own refugee experience, speaks to the urgent responsibility that we as a global community bear.

We are reminded of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's warning and plea at the launch of this effort, "We risk an entire generation of children being scarred for life. I hope the moving music on tonight's programme can help to move hearts and minds so we can end the suffering. The children of Syria are our children. They need our help."

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