Lebanon.. Al-Bustan Festival responds to crises with “music”

Through “Rhythms of Peace”, the title adopted by the “Al-Bustan International Music Festival” for this year, the organizers wanted to “respond with music to the rhythms of crises, despair, oppression, poverty and hunger” that the Lebanese suffer from, in a session that brings together musicians and singers from countries suffering from war and occupation.

The festival, which opens on February 23 and ends on March 19, includes 19 diverse concerts by international and local musicians. The compositions of the Russian composer Rachmaninov are present in most of the festival’s concerts, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. The classical program, infused with jazz, included a concert by the Lebanese singer Georges Khabbaz.

During a press conference, on Tuesday, held at the Al Bustan Hotel, northeast of Beirut, the festival’s vice-president, Laura Lahoud, stressed the title “Rhythms of Peace” that was given to this session of the festival, explaining that it is intended to “respond with music to the rhythms of the crises in which we live, as we refuse to We live on the rhythms of collapse, frustration, despair, oppression, poverty and hunger…and we insist that we resist with music, culture and creativity.”

Lahoud said that this version sheds light on musicians from Lebanon Ukraine, Palestine and Russia, any of the countries suffering from wars and occupation. Music transcends borders, it is a language that unites people and is understood by all.”

The festival, which was founded by the first deputy in the Lebanese parliament, Mirna Bustani, 29 years ago, is held at the “Al Bustan” hotel, and some of its concerts are hosted by two churches in Beirut, and its activities extend this year to Sidon and Tyre.

The festival’s artistic director and Italian conductor Gianluca Marciano stressed that the festival “carries an important message, as there is a link between music, peace and Lebanon, as an example to be followed globally in how to overcome suffering and spread positivity.”

the program

The festival opens with a solo performance by the American violinist of Chinese origin, Ellie Su, accompanied by an orchestra from Italy led by the Italian conductor Gianna Fratta. The festival concludes with a concert entitled “Music for Peace” by the Young European Musicians Orchestra.

Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisizza will perform on February 24, the date of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Young Musicians of Europe Orchestra, led by Paolo Olmi, presents an evening in Tyre, entitled “In the Name of the Peacekeepers”, directed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Among the most prominent stations of the program is an oriental concert that will be presented over two nights. .

The songs are characterized by a variety of musical styles, and the presence of about 18 artists on stage. The program also includes a concert entitled “Rhythms from East and West” by the Lebanese-French pianist Abdel Rahman Al-Basha, accompanied by the French-Armenian cellist Astrij Serranossian.

And while jazz lovers will have a date with two concerts, the first is classical and the second is dominated by the atmosphere of oriental jazz, Haydn’s tenth “anti-war” Mass, according to Marciano, stands out in the program, which Haydn composed in the year 1796, while Austria was in the midst of war and feared invasion. The Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Marciano, and the Notre Dame University Choir, led by Father Khalil Rahma.

The festival allocates space annually to opera, and hosts the well-known Russian soprano Elena Stekina. Also from Russia, the young pianist Alexander Malofeev stands out.

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