Music mends all worries. That is a common place dictum, perhaps better understood by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Acting on it, Putin sent a Russian musical troupe to Syria’s Palmyra on Thursday for a concert to celebrate the liberation of the heritage site from Islamic State or ISIS.
The town was recaptured jointly by Syrian and Russian forces in March and ended the destructive occupation of the dreaded ISIS after it inflicted huge damage on the monuments and went on a killing spree.
The Thursday’s concert titled “With a Prayer from Palmyra: Music Revives the Ancient Walls” was dedicated to the memory of Aleksandr Prokhorenko, a Russian officer killed during the battle for Palmyra. It was performed at the same Roman theatre where Islamic State executed captured Syrian soldiers in November, reports The Guardian.
Conducted by Valery Gergiev, the concert had the St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra taking centre stage, along with cellist Sergey Roldulgin, Putin’s close associate, who was recently named in the Panama Papers. The hour-long concert featured music by Sergei Prokofiev, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Rodion Shchedrin.
The audience is comprised of military, media and diplomatic guests from friendly countries. The Russian TV beamed the concert live with a crane-mounted camera and a drone covering it. The musical treat was preceded by the remarks of President Putin who spoke live via video link and called the event “a remembrance of all victims of terrorism” and a positive sign in facing terrorism.
According to a CNN report, the Russian military brought 100 journalists, with their convoy backed by armoured vehicles from Latakia in northwestern Syria to Palmyra. The journalists said the convoy also had Russian attack helicopters circling overhead, looking out for threats.
Many of the media persons had a first-hand view of the damaged statues, which had faces chipped off by the ISIS ultras. However, Syrian directorate-general of antiquities and monuments is confident that the artefacts could soon be restored to their historic value.