Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra staged a classical music concert Thursday in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
Renowned Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, led the performance of Bach's Chaconne for Solo Violin, a cello piece by Shchedrin, and Prokofiev's First Symphony.
In opening remarks, Gergiev said the intention of the concert was to “protest against the barbarians who destroyed monuments of world culture.”
Putin, addressing the audience by video link from his Russian Black Sea residence in Sochi, said he regarded the concert “as a sign of gratitude, remembrance and hope.”
The concert, dubbed “With a Prayer for Palmyra,” was held in the Roman amphitheater of Palmyra, the scene of mass executions by Islamic State less than a year ago.
Russian and Syrian military personnel as well as locals attended the concert, which was made public just hours before it began.
Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes and special forces on the ground recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State forces in March.
A UNESCO world heritage site, the city is known as the "Pearl of the Desert."