Russia’s Valery Gergiev conducts concert in Palmyra ruins

A renowned Russian conductor has led a concert in the ruins of Palmyra in Syria, which were recaptured from the so-called Islamic State (IS) in March, the BBC reports.

Valery Gergiev conducted the Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra, from St Petersburg, at Palmyra’s Roman Theatre.

Mr Gergiev led the orchestra through pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in front of a crowd of Russian soldiers, government ministers and journalists.

Pictures of the concert, broadcast on Russian state television, were occasionally interrupted by footage of military action – showing Russian military backing for Syrian government forces as they liberated Palmyra from IS militants.

The maestro described the concert as a protest against the barbarism and violence exhibited by Islamic State militants who had used the city’s Roman amphitheatre to execute prisoners.

The Russian president also addressed the audience, by video link from his Black Sea residence of Sochi.

He called terrorism a contagion of which the world needed to rid itself, and said the fact the concert was taking place at all was “surprising”.

“Today’s action involved major inconvenience and dangers for everyone, being in a country at war close to where hostilities are still ongoing. That has demanded great strength and personal courage from you all” he said.

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