Russia’s famed Mariinsky Orchestra, led by renowned maestro Valery Gergiev, performed a touching concert in Syria's ancient Roman amphitheater in Palmyra, only weeks after it was recaptured from Islamic State group fighters.
The St. Petersburg-based ensemble played a range of music including Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in front of a packed crowd at the site used by extremists to hold public executions until recently.
“Thank you for today’s amazing humanitarian act — the concert in a Palmyra liberated from terrorists,” Putin said in an address from Russia via video link up. “I see it as a sign of gratitude, of remembrance, of hope.”
International journalists, human rights activists, Russian politicians, army personnel and scores of civilians attended the concert at “Pearl of the Desert,” the ancient site where jihadist fighters blew up ancient temples and looted relics.
Syrian troops, backed by Russian air strikes and special forces on the ground, recaptured the UNESCO world heritage site from ISIS in late March. This concert, dubbed as “With a Prayer for Palmyra: Music Revives Ancient Ruins,” was held to show gratitude to both the victims of terrorism and those fighting it.