Opening of Brave Festival 2018 | Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra
Where:Wroclaw Opera, Świdnicka 35
Outstanding Syrian philharmonic musicians, fleeing war and scattered all over Europe, established an extraordinary orchestra in exile in Germany. Led by a double bass, Raed Jazbeh, they prove that war refugees from Syria do make their contribution to top class world culture.
Currently living in Bremen, Jazbeh – a former Damascus symphonic orchestra musician – had an idea in 2015 to establish a band together with his friends who, when the military conflict in Syria began, found shelter in Germany, Belgium, Holland, France and other countries of the European Union. In their home country they belonged to the elite, they were virtuosos in orchestras in Damascus and Aleppo, but politics and the civil war forced them to abandon their lives and become refugees overnight. Many of them paid for this with depression, lost social prestige, homesickness. SEPO has become their new musical family. This summer they will perform in Poland for the first time, opening the 13th edition of Brave Festival “Visible/Invisible”.
The founder of SEPO searched long for old colleagues through social media. He found, among others, the violinist Michella Kasas, who continued her music studies in France, or the married couple of string virtuosos Hivran and Jihad, who went through a refugee camp with their children and now play in a Berlin orchestra. Or the trumpeter Dolam Shabah, who had to abandon his beloved instrument in Syria and after an exhausting journey across Turkey, Serbia and Hungary settled down in Germany to return to music. Like many other members of the orchestra who have equally dramatic moments behind them.
As Raed Jazbeh says - this is not a band of refugees, but a professional orchestra in exile. They play both world classics and Syrian and Arab compositions. By giving concerts they attempt to preserve the high culture of their country and go beyond the theme of war, the dominating media narrative about Syria. With their work they want to break the negative stereotype of a Syrian refugee, showing talented artists who bring valuable and unique elements to European culture.
Its presence at classical music festivals and in the largest concert halls in Europe, including: the Konzerthaus Berlin, Malmö Live Konserthus Sweden or Megaron Concert Hall in Athens speaks to the orchestra’s high artistic level.
SEPO, comprising 25 artists, will perform at Brave Festival together with Polish musicians from the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra in Wrocław, and invite you to a string concert. The programme will include a repertoire of Syrian composers of classical music as well as a selection of a few compositions written by renowned Polish artists. The Syrian Orchestra will perform in Poland for the first time in history and will play the music of Karłowicz, Kilar and Górecki. For the Polish musicians it will also be their first encounter with the Syrian classical repertoire.
Co-organizer of the concert: Wroclaw Opera - Institution of Culture of the Lower Silesian Voivodship
TV documentary about the ensemble: