“While the news about Syria has tended to focus on the destruction of war and the strain on countries of taking in so many newcomers, the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra has been giving Syrians and Germans a chance to connect in a fresh way, around music,” writes Isabelle de Pommereau in Thursday’s (5/5) Christian Science Monitor. “ ‘Syria isn’t a country of war, death, and destruction…. It is a country of culture, art, and music,’ says the soft-spoken Raed Jazbeh, founder and artistic director of SEPO. Jazbeh grew up in the city of Aleppo … [studied] at the Damascus Higher Institute of Music … [and] joined the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra…. When the group played in Berlin in 2013, friends convinced him it was not safe to go home…. He landed at a refugee center in Bremen.… On Sept. 22, 2015, SEPO held its first concert, in Bremen…. The opening concert was sold out, and afterward, the invitations started pouring in for SEPO to perform. The group has played in Germany, but it’s beginning to branch out to other European countries, too.  It now includes about 90 musicians—70 Syrians, along with 20 Germans to make the orchestra fuller.”

Posted May 6, 2016