Groundbreaking musician / songwriter Damon Albarn is no stranger to bringing together contrasting and diverse groups of musicians to work on various projects. His current mission however, is perhaps one of the most touching musical stories in recent years.
Albarn has been aiding in the reunion of the 50 plus members of the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians in order to embark on a mini tour this summer. The Blur frontman first worked with the orchestra back in 2010 when they played a number of live shows with Albarn’s other band Gorillaz, featuring prominently on the track ‘White Flag’.
Since those 2010 performances, Syria has been thrown into turmoil and an ongoing war has tore the country apart. Due to the war, many of the orchestra’s musicians have been spread all over the world. Some of them not seeing each other for over five years.
Albarn stated: “I just felt I wanted to get my friends back together. These are families. Brothers and sisters.”
“Also, the average person didn’t know much about Syria before the war started, so all we get to hear and see are these ugly war scenes.”
“The Arab world has more to offer than this. This concert is about the power and beauty and richness of Syrian music.”
The situation in Syria has had massive repercussions for not just the homeland but much of North Africa and Europe, with thousands of civilians fleeing the country. The Orchestra’s conductor Issam Rafea hopes that he can not only help promote Arabic music but also use music as a universal language to unite people.
The group have already played at Glastonbury, Rosklide Festival and London’s South Bank Centre in late June. They are hotly tipped to feature as special guests at a number of other festivals this summer.