Together with Abdelkader Benali, director Ola Mafalaani and residents of Aleppo, Syria, I created a 30 minute Mini Opera . On June 27th the premiere took place in the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
Members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra played alongside musicians of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, some of whom have fled to the Netherlands, and a Syrian protest singer. In doing this, we made a statement of connection, sharing hope and raising awareness for the people in Syria that are largely unseen.
Read here who helped make this project possible.
Syrian musician Gharib during the performance of A Postcard From Aleppo
Syrian singer Sarah Akilli Zegers
A Postcard From Aleppo in full swing
Initiators writer Abdelkader Benali and composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven
Photography: Liny Mutsaers
A tragedy is unfolding in Syria. We went in search of the human sound in the midst of the war. Now and then, when a connection could be established through the internet, scanned postcards from Aleppo reached us. The texts, written by people from all religions and ages, speak of everyday moments and personal experiences no newspaper ever writes about. We took these testimonies as the starting point for the mini opera. In this way, a musical approach can bring to life for us those people who sometimes reach the news, but seldom reach our hearts. They are stories of a counter-war: the daily struggle to live a normal life and not be dragged into the violence. One of them said the following: “Nobody watches Al Jazeera anymore. We are sick of the news reports and the way the war controls our lives. We want to create an Anti-Al Jazeera by writing our own stories that are personal and dear to us.”
Refugees have lost everything. Not only their homes, clothing and income, also their identity and dignity have been vaporized. In the media politicians, soldiers and violence have our attention, but the voice of the Syrian refugee remains unheard in the noise of war. The essence of this story is the human being who, fleeing from war, runs into another war: a war for self-preservation in an unfamiliar, sometimes hostile world. That refugee is granted a voice in this project. A poetic, human voice in which hope and longing for a better day find shelter.
The result is not just symbolic. Our aim is not just to bring a statement of hope, to show our concern for a tragedy and to hearten the Syrians who are on the run, but also for actual music lessons for Syrian children. With the attention and funds we are raising we support music workshops for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Read more about “Syrious Mission”: www.syriousmission.nl
That is a long story. I have visited this beautiful country many times and lost my heart to the alleyways of Damascus, one of the oldest cities in the world, where people have lived for over 11,000 years…
In 2010 I gave an unforgettable concert in Damascus, the capital of Syria.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the concept from the Dutch television program De Wereld Draait Door (As the World Turns):
Thank you very much for your attention!
I hope you will remain involved.