Around this time every summer, Lebanon is usually jam packed with music festivals and concerts. It’s almost part of their DNA. As has been the case across the world, however, numerous festivals and relevant organisations have been forced to close their doors, either due to health and safety concerns, or at the hands of decreased funding and support usually provided by government grants.
Currently, Baalbeck International Festival - the oldest festival of this type in Lebanon - is the sole event that has not been cancelled. On July 5th, Baalbeck will be hosting ‘The Sound of Resilience’, a 55-minute concert held at the historic Bacchus Temple, one of the finest and most well preserved Roman temples anywhere in the world, and is set to be broadcast on Lebanese national TV as well as through online streaming platforms.
“The beauty of this concert is that it’s a solidarity movement with all the artists, musicians, the maestro, the selenographers and sound all working for free,” said Baalbeck International Festival president, Nayla de Friege, to The Daily Star.
“All these people want to give his message that culture is not a luxury and has to survive against all odds, whatever the country is going through. We have creativity in this country and we need people to use their creativity and keep on producing.”
Created by Harout Fazlian, principal conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra - who recently played from their respective homes (watch video above) - the non-profit concert will gather the LPO, the Choirs of the Antonine University, Notre Dame University and Qolo Atiqo, as well as a number of prominent young Lebanese musicians. The music itself is set to be a tasteful combination of the Eastern and Western traditions of classical music, bridging a wide range of artists from Beethoven to the Rahbani Brothers.
In addition, the festival will feature actor, Rafic Ali Ahmad, as well as dancers from the Makriss Dance Ministry troupe providing accompaniment alongside visuals by interior designer and architect, Jean Louis Mainguy. In addition to music and visuals, the program is set to address a number of social issues, primarily the topics of gender equality and women's empowerment via performances by young girls.
While ‘The Sound of Resilience’ will be continuing forward as planned, other festivals and arts organisations in Lebanon are not as lucky; many are in debt due to lack of government support, coupled with the freefalling value of the Lira.
“If a country doesn’t invest in its youth, it has no future, so it’s my duty as a leader in the musical world in Lebanon to show that there is a future in culture here,” said Fazilan in a recent interview. “Solidarity is something we must consider all the time, not just now, and this is where Beethoven’s music comes in to play, because he also spoke powerfully about unity.”