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 at 8 p.m. 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 Jan. 22 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 1,000 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."