See pics of Russian orchestra performance in Syria’s war-torn Palmyra

art and culture Updated: May 09, 2016 18:58 IST
Palmyra,Palmyra Concert,Palmyra Syria
People wave Syrian national flags during a musical event called Gate of the Sun that was held to honour victims of the Syria's conflict in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria.(REUTERS)

Amid chaos and bloodshed, colourful lights have started returning to the Roman amphitheatre in Syria’s Palmyra. It’s the same theatre where the black-masked Islamic State (IS) militants used to spell the blood of Syrian soldiers and instil horror in the hearts of people and prepare them for more brutality, reports Xinhua news agency.

A picture taken on May 6, 2016 shows the remains of the Triumph's Arch, also called the Monumental Arch of Palmyra, in the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria, following its recapture by regime forces from the Islamic State group fighters. (AFP)

Syria’s Pearl of the Desert -- that is how people describe and call Palmyra, a site of 2,000-year-old ruins. The city earned this name, especially when its lit, making it a pearl glowing in the Syrian desert.

When the IS stormed the city in May 2015, fans and lovers of Palmyra sank into despair and their pain grew bigger with every news about a new IS bombing of city’s priceless ancient monuments.

The audience waves Syrian flags as they attend the music concert. (AFP)

But when the Syrian army, backed by the Russian forces, recaptured the city and dislodged IS in March, hopes soared high that the oasis city will return to be a mesmerizing attraction.

Read: Experts rush to ancient Palmyra after Syrian army ousts IS

The amphitheatre was revived when the Russian Mariinsky orchestra played on Thursday for the first time since the IS was defeated.

Musicians perform during the concert in the ancient theatre of Syria's Palmyra after Syrian troops backed by Russian air strikes and special forces on the ground recaptured the UNESCO world heritage site from Islamic State group fighters in March. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke via a video from Moscow to the audience, greeting the extra and telling them that “the event is ... a sign of memory, hope and a sense of gratitude”.

On Friday, the Syrian presidential palace organised a similar event performed by several Syrian orchestras.

Al-Farah choir perform as a Syrian national flag flutters during the musical event. (REUTERS)

It was held under the auspices of President Bashar al-Assad, and was a tribute to the Syrian martyrs who are commemorated on the 6th of May every year.

The Syrian National Symphony, the National Ensemble for Arabic Music, Mari Orchestra and al-Farah Choir or the Joy Choir have again revived the amphitheatre of Palmyra with pieces glorifying the love of the homeland and stirring nostalgic feelings in Palmyra.

The audience waves Syrian flags as they attend the music concert in the ancient theatre of Syria's ravaged city of Palmyra. (AFP)

Hatem Mhanna, one among the audience, told Xinhua that he was happy watching life and music being restored to the city.

Read: Syria fighters ‘relieved’ to see Palmyra treasures intact

“The musical instruments have replaced the killing machines of the IS, these colors have replaced their black flag and hearts,” he said.

Singers perform next to a portrait of Khaled al-Assaad, the late 82-year old retired chief archaeologist of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. (AFP)

Siham Daboseh, a woman in her 60s, said she knows Palmyra like the palm of her hand.

“I am in love with this place and I know every inch of it. I am sad for the destruction in some areas, but hopeful when I see that the rest of the city is intact,” she said.

People wave Syrian national flags during the musical event. (REUTERS)

During its 10-month rule of the city, the IS had destroyed the Temple of Bel, which was dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Bel, who was worshipped at Palmyra in triad with the lunar god Aglibol and the sun god Yarhibol.

Aside from Bal, another temple in Palmyra, Baalshamin, was totally destroyed.

On May 2015, IS militants partially destroyed the Lion of al-Lat and other statues. They also destroyed three of the best preserved tower tombs including the Tower of Elahbel.

First Published: May 09, 2016 18:58 IST