Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Young Classical World Musicians To Damascus, Syria! -- Humanist And Pacifist Musicians Not Fearing To Tread Where Western Politicians Fear To Tread

Istanbul, Turkey. "Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim said Tuesday he was aiming to set up a performance of his West-Eastern Divan orchestra, comprised of Israelis and Arabs, in Damascus [Syria]. Barenboim, currently in Istanbul where the orchestra is to hold a concert on Wednesday, told journalist that talks on the matter had already been held with the Syrian government.

The conductor said that there could be no military solution in the
Middle East.

He said the Divan orchestra, founded in 1999, aims to promote

About half the 100 members are Israelis, while the other half are
from the Middle East and North Africa.

Barenboim noted that the complete orchestra would not be performing in Istanbul. Some members from Syria and Lebanon had not come to Istanbul in protest against the conflict "and for various other reasons," he said.

The West-Eastern Divan orchestra is set for concerts later this year in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Weimar, and Milan."

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur August 15, 2006 via

The Ummayyad Mosque in Old Damascus, Syria, dates from the 8th Century C.E.

Damascus is said to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. A center of life from as early as 5000 BC [BCE]. It was a meeting place of many different caravan routes, one of the great market places of history. It was mentioned in many cuniform tablets dating back to 3rd millennium BC. found in Mari and Ebla archives. Amorite (Semitic) settlement began around late 3rd millenium. It came into Egyptian sphere of influence and was mentioned in the Amarna archives 14C. BC. It went under Arameans, Assyrians, and Persians control before Alexander the Great compain in 333 BC. from the Greek rule till 7C AP. Damascus went under wave of western influence marked by the Greeks, Romans and the Byzantines. It became Islam’s first great capital under the Ummayyad Caliphs during 7-8C.

Old Damascus is surrounded by a wall and towers, in addition to eight gates, six of which are attributed to Roman times while the other two are Islamic.

Important sites in Damasus include:

The Ummayyad Mosque, one of the best preserved mosques in the world from 8C., famous for its golden mosaics and the head of John the Baptist.

Saint Ananias Church, and St. Paul Church where St. Paul was descended in a basket from the wall and left Damascus to Europe to preach Christianity.

There are many Damascene old houses, Hammams, Khans and historical schools dating back to the successive Islamic periods, worth visiting are the National Museum and Arabic Science and Medical Museum.

For travelers, Damascus offers countless opportunities for shopping in the souks and strolling the tree-lined streets of this fascinating old city.

Text and photo credit: Maan Al-Sabbagh and With thanks.


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