Author: Jordi Savall
Music of solidarity against oblivion
[Orpheus 21: Paths of Exile and Hope]
The expression “Ex Oriente Lux”, which inspires our title ORIENTE LUX, refers first of all to the light which always dawns in the East, but it also refers to the spiritual light emanating from the ideas and the cultural and spiritual traditions of the ancient civilisations of the Near and Far East. That is why the fundamental contributions of the oral traditions of Eastern music to the development of our medieval musical traditions and in dialogue with them, have inspired the Orpheus 21 project.
This project, which was born as a social and cultural initiative to support refugee and immigrant professional musicians in Europe, took place throughout 2017 and 2018 thanks to the essential collaboration of Waed Bouhassoun and Moslem Rahal, two exceptional Syrian musicians. Together with them we have created an original programme, presented in this live recording the symbolic theme of “Paths of exile and hope”. A group of magnificent musicians from Syria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Morocco and Turkey came together in the development of this project. With the collaboration and supervision of soloists from Hespèrion XXI, as well as the Syrian musicians Waed Bouhassoun and Moslem Rahal, and myself, the Orpheus 21 team carried out a remarkable pedagogical and artistic project centred on young refugee musicians hosted in various towns and cities in Europe, with the aim of giving a voice to this diversity of age-old musical legacies which are preserved in the memory of all these extraordinary musicians. Let us not forget that many of them, who today are forced to become refugees or immigrants in our excessively fearful and ungenerous Europe, are the bearers of an unwritten memory, of a rich musical culture which is on the brink of disappearing. Because this culture comes from regions which for many years have been devastated by terrible wars, by blind terror or savage colonialism.
This great musical fresco is also intended as a homage to the victims of the war in Syria which, at the time of writing, is entering its twelfth year, with a terrible toll of human suffering and more than 570,000 dead. There remains little hope of achieving a just solution after eleven years of inhuman conflict which has left more than half a million dead, six million internally displaced people, five million refugees who have been forced to flee abroad, and a country – Syria – which will take decades to recover. As Milan Kundera reminds us in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, one of the most tragic faults of human beings is their great capacity for amnesia, which is why we propose this CD with its recording of the concert of “music against oblivion” given on 10th March, 2019, at the Pierre Boulez Hall of the Philharmonie de Paris. We are convinced that, thanks to the commitment and art of all these musicians, the strength of emotion and the beauty of this music, which is both ancient and very much of the present moment, will – like the song of Orpheus – make us more sensitive and generously supportive.
Smyrna, 15th April, 2023
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
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