BPO musicians participate in benefit for children of Syria at Carnegie Hall

“Shostakovich for the Children of Syria sends into the world, and especially to our suffering sisters and brothers in Syria, the message that music can bear witness to the fundamental goodness of the human spirit in the face of oppression, deprivation, and the insane brutality of war.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Buffalo, NY – Nine months after their triumphant performance at Spring For Music, several members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will return to the Carnegie Hall stage in “Shostakovich for the Children of Syria,” presented by Music for Life International, Inc. at 8 PM Monday, Jan. 13 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Singapore-born Indian conductor George Mathew is the concert’s organizer and conductor.

The benefit concert features a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, “Leningrad.” The BPO created the world premiere recording of this piece, under the baton of William Steinberg in 1946. Shostakovich for the Children of Syria will take place one week before the Geneva II conference on Syria convened by the United Nations,on January 22, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Net proceeds from the concert will benefit Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.

Buffalo Philharmonic musicians Deborah Greitzer (violin), Glenn Einschlag (bassoon), and Brian Greene (oboe) will be joined onstage by musicians from New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, 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.

The concert opens with Syrian clarinetist and composer, Kinan Azmeh, performing his own “Sabah Hazeen, Kul Sabah” (A Sad Morning, Every Morning) for Solo Clarinet. He wrote the piece in 2012 when the uprising was a year old and describes the work as “a little prayer for home, dedicated to all those who have fallen in Syria.”

“I am very proud of our three musicians who have been chosen to perform in this concert,” said BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta. “Music has the power to give voice to the voiceless, and to shake people out of their day-to-day routines and make them think about larger issues. It’s important for us as musicians to use our talents not only to entertain and educate, but to make the world a better place.”

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.”

Speaking about the concert, 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.”

About Shostakovich for the Children of Syria

Shostakovich for the Children of Syriais the fifth in a series of global humanitarian concerts that George Mathew and Music For Life International have presented at Carnegie Hall, gathering artists from the world’s finest orchestras, ensembles and music schools for humanitarian causes while employing the music as their central source of energy.

The concert is an urgent call to the global community to bring the support needed to the more than 2.2 million refugees. It also echoes the larger global call to end the civil war that has killed more than 125,000 people and displaced almost 9 million, mostly children, since 2011. As the international community, headed by the United Nations, makes a concerted effort for peace in Syria, this concert is a parallel effort through Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, which has powerful resonances with the situation in Syria.

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.

Shostakovich for the Children of Syria will operate under the auspices of Music for Life International,a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization in New York. The funds raised by Shostakovich for the Children of Syria will go to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need. MSF started working in Syria in 2009 and has provided medical assistance and relief to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

For more information, visit www.childrenofsyria.org.

About Music For Life International Inc.

Music for Life International Inc. (MFLI), which takes its name from the legendary MUSIC FOR LIFE concerts organized by Leonard Bernstein in the late 1980s at Carnegie Hall, was created to conceive and present concerts and related events to promote the awareness of significant international humanitarian crises and other public interest issues. MFLI, a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, contributes the net proceeds from its humanitarian concerts to organizations directly addressing the crises and issues, which are the context for the concerts.

MFLI’s most recent undertaking is Ubuntu-Shruti, a new professional training orchestra in New York City, of young musicians and distinguished mentors creating music and programming dedicated to immigrants, community, and education. Ubuntu-Shruti made its first appearances at the 2010 and 2011 New Year’s Eve Concerts for Peace at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

About the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 27 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.