The archaeological park of Paestum | PHOTO: ANSA/CESARE ABBATE
The archaeological park of Paestum | PHOTO: ANSA/CESARE ABBATE

A concert directed by Italian conductor Riccardo Muti will open on July 5 as part of the Ravenna Festival -- "Le vie dell'amicizia" (The roads of friendship) in the ancient town of Paestum near the Campania city of Salerno. The event is dedicated to the plight of Syrians in a country long ravaged by war.

A concert-event directed by the renown Italian conductor Riccardo Muti will be dedicated to the suffering endured over the last nine years by the Syrian population. It opens on July 5 as part of the Ravenna Festival in Paestum, the ancient town near Salerno.

The event series "The roads of friendship" has been held in 1997 in Sarajevo and subsequently in cities including Beirut, Jerusalem, Yerevan, New York and Damascus -- symbolic sites of ancient and contemporary history. The organizers describe it as a ''series of lay pilgrimages touching on cities wounded by war."

The upcoming event in Paestum is dedicated to Syria and in particular the ancient city of Palmyra, the archaeological site devastated by ISIS. 

It will feature the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra which is formed by Syrian musicians and academics who live in European Union countries.

Two symbols for the concert 

The event is dedicated to the plight of the Syrian population embodied by two symbolic figures: Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf, a women's rights activist who was killed at 35 in October 2019, and the Syrian archaeologist and retired head of antiquities in Palmyra Khalid al-Asaad. Al-Asaad was left alone to defend some of Syria's greatest archaeological treasures from ISIS jihadists who beheaded him in 2015 before devastating the museum. 

The union between Palmyra and Paestum 

Performers at the event will include Aynur Dogan and Zehra Dogan, two artists of Kurdish origin who have worked to promote women's rights and who have both been subjected to attacks and censorship. 

The concert stresses once again the union between Palmyra and Paestum, two UNESCO world heritage sites. Palmyra was a desert hub along the caravan route that in the first and second centuries served as a crossroads for Persian, Greek and Roman cultures while Paestum, also known by its original Greek name Poseidonia, was conquered first by the Lucanians, then by the Romans and cited, among others, by master poets Virgil and Ovid for its roses that blossomed in the spring and fall.

Organizers, proceeds

The concert will be held in front of the Temple of Neptune. It is sponsored by the Campania region with the Chamber of commerce in Salerno, in cooperation with the Ravenna Festival, the city of Capaccio, the Archaeological park of Paestum and Velia and organized by Scabec, Campania's cultural heritage agency.

Proceeds from the event will go to charity. Muti will direct the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra with the musicians of the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra in the Symphony no. 3 in E flat major, op. 55 ''Eroica'' by Ludwig van Beethoven.


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