Italian UNESCO site to host concert for Syria

The concert will take place on a stage in front of the Temple of Neptune, a UNESCO World Heritage site built around 450 BC and still perfectly preserved. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Italian UNESCO site to host concert for Syria

  • The concert is dedicated to the suffering endured over the last nine years by the Syrian population
  • The “Roads of Friendship” event is directed by star opera and classical music conductor Riccardo Muti

ROME: A concert dedicated to the plight of the Syrian people will be held on July 5 in the town of Paestum in southern Italy.
The “Roads of Friendship” event is directed by star opera and classical music conductor Riccardo Muti.
Performers, who will play in front of preserved Greek temples overlooking the sea, include the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, formed by Syrian musicians and academics who live in EU countries.
Previous editions of the concert have been held in Sarajevo, Beirut, Jerusalem, Yerevan, New York and Damascus.
“This year it’s dedicated to Syria, and in particular the ancient city of Palmyra, the archaeological site devastated by Daesh and connected to Paestum thanks to a twinning initiative,” Muti told Arab News.
“The concert is dedicated to the suffering endured over the last nine years by the Syrian population. In this terrible situation, the international community must do something. We hope to help raise awareness through our music.”
The concert will take place on a stage in front of the Temple of Neptune, a UNESCO World Heritage site built around 450 BC and still perfectly preserved. All proceeds will go to charity.
Muti is one of the most successful directors in the world. He is currently musical director at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, after having spent 19 years as musical director at the Teatro La Scala in Milan.
He will conduct the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra with the musicians of the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra.
The event is dedicated to the plight of the Syrian people embodied by two symbolic figures: Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf, a women’s rights activist who was killed in October 2019, and Khalid Al-Asaad, an archaeologist and retired head of antiquities in Palmyra.
Al-Asaad was left alone to defend some of Syria’s greatest archaeological treasures from Daesh jihadists, who beheaded him in 2015.
Performers at the event include Aynur Dogan and Zehra Dogan, two Kurdish artists who have worked to promote women’s rights.
Both Palmyra and Paestum are 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.
Paestum, also known by its original Greek name Poseidonia, was conquered first by the Lucanians then by the Romans.
It was cited by poets Virgil and Ovid, among others, for its roses that blossomed both in spring and autumn.


Brazil’s President Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

Updated 7 min 20 sec ago

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

  • The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity.
Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendationS,” Bolsonaro said.
The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.
He has also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70% of the population falling ill with COVID-19, and that local authorities’ measures to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.
Cities and states last month began lifting restrictions that had been imposed to control the spread of the virus, as their statistical curves of deaths began to decline along with the occupation rate of its intensive-care units. Brazil, the world’s sixth most populous nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the global hot spots of the pandemic.
On Monday, Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia that he underwent an X-ray of his lungs that showed they were clean, and that he would be tested for COVID-19. On Tuesday, he told CNN Brasil that his fever had subsided.
Over the weekend, the Brazilian leader celebrated the US Independence Day with the nation’s ambassador to Brazil, then shared pictures on social media showing him with his arm around the ambassador alongside several ministers and aides. None wore masks, despite being in close quarters.
The US Embassy said on Twitter on Monday that Ambassador Todd Chapman is not showing any COVID-19 symptoms but would be tested.
Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March after meeting with the US President Donald Trump in Florida. Multiple members of his delegation to the US were later reported to be infected with the virus.
More than 65,000 Brazilians have so far died from COVID-19 and more than 1,500,000 have been infected. Both numbers are the world’s second-highest totals, and are considered to be undercounts to the lack of widespread testing.