Orwa Al Sharaa, Mohammed Mir Mahmoud, Gaby Al Botros and Nazir Salameh make up the Orontes Guitar Quartet. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Syrian guitar quartet opens fourth Alberni Classical Concerts season

Alberni Classical Concerts fourth season is sold out

A group of Syrian guitarists performed at the Arrowsmith Baptist Church in Port Alberni last weekend, opening a sold-out season for the Alberni Classical Concerts Society.

The Orontes Guitar Quartet took the stage on Saturday, Oct. 5, playing to a crowd of more than 180. The group has a unique story, having escaped the ongoing destruction of the Syrian civil war through fellowships arranged by the Artist Protection Fund. The APF, based in New York, supports threatened artists around the world by providing grants and arranging residency programs at academic institutions in “safe” countries. The Orontes Guitar Quartet received a grant for a one-year fellowship at the University of Victoria’s School of Music in November 2018.

The APF, explained guitarist Orwa Al Sharaa, usually places artists in the United States. This is the first time a group has been placed in Canada—a result of the new travel ban in the U.S.

“We were lucky, because we came here to Canada instead,” said Al Sharaa on Saturday.

The name of the group is based on the Orontes or Al Assi River, which begins in Lebanon and flows through Syria and Turkey before entering the Mediterranean Sea.

Their musical style is described as a mix of blues, jazz, flamenco, baroque, classical, Latin music and folk. Saturday’s concert showcased their range, as they performed everything from Mozart and Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite to a “pretty new” techno-inspired piece (fittingly called, “Techno”).

Michael Kozlow, president and artistic director for the Alberni Classical Concerts Society, said that the society heard about the quartet because they had been performing shows across Canada.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to have them while they were still here,” he said. “We heard good reviews, so we were very happy to book them.”

RELATED: Musica Intima closes out first classical concert series in Port Alberni

Saturday marked the first of four classical concerts this season at the Arrowsmith Baptist Church. The Trio d’Argento will perform on Jan. 24, followed by the Elmer Iseler Singers on March 15 and Buzz Brass on May 1.

Kozlow said that the society has sold exactly 180 subscriptions this year, which is the number of subscription cards that had been printed. In addition, the society gave out nine complimentary subscriptions for the season and three complimentary admissions to the Orontes Guitar Quartet.

“It’s a nice feeling, that we sold everything we printed,” said Kozlow.

Last year’s subscriptions totalled 149.

Refreshments were available on Saturday by donation, which went to one of the Arrowsmith Baptist Church’s charities. A total of $220 was raised for the Bread of Life.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beaver Creek home hit by fire

Cause of the late night fire is still undetermined

BCHL: Bulldogs set to face Clippers in Round One of BCHL playoffs

Alberni Valley Bulldogs have won two out of eight games against Nanaimo this season

Maple Leafs alumni take over Alberni Valley Multiplex

Inclusion Cup raises funds for Port Alberni Association for Community Living

Coldest Night event raises $33K in Port Alberni

Elementary school students raise $445 with daytime walk

Juno-nominated teen singer from Port Alberni to appear on ‘American Idol’

Lauren Spencer-Smith up for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for ‘Unplugged, Vol. 1’

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read