Damon Albarn onstage at The Roundhouse London, 2010, with members of The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music © Mark Allan
The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music will perform a rare show at Southbank Centre on 25 June 2016, with Damon Albarn and guests, presented by Africa Express as part of 14-18 NOW.
The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, led by principal conductor Issam Rafea, first played with songwriter and producer Damon Albarn at the Damascus Opera House in 2008. Albarn later worked with Rafea and the Orchestra when SNOAM appeared on the Gorillaz track ‘White Flag’ – which debuted at an Africa Express concert in Paris. The Orchestra, together with Rafea, later joined Gorillaz on their 2010 ‘Escape to Plastic Beach’ World Tour which included shows at the 11th century Citadel in Damascus, Syria, as well as dates in Lebanon and across Europe and North America.
The concert has been timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This landmark wartime agreement divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire – including Syria – into British and French spheres of influence, fostering instabilities that continue to cause conflict today.
Tickets for the concert will be on sale from 10am Friday 22 January 2016.