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Arts and Theater 1
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Black Tie International:
"The Scheherazade Initiative"
"Beneath the Olive Tree"

George Matthews conducts The Scheherazade Initiative Orchestra for The UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women at Carnegie Hall, 10/19/15. Photo by Chris Lee

George Matthews conducts The Scheherazade Initiative Orchestra for The UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women at Carnegie Hall, 10/19/15. Photo by Chris Lee

"The Scheherazade Initiative"
"Beneath the Olive Tree"

By Ward Morehouse III

"Beneath the Olive Tree" Narrator Olympia Dukakis and Director Stavroula Toska 

"Beneath the Olive Tree" Narrator Olympia Dukakis and Director Stavroula Toska 

I recently had one of the most culturally uplifting and artistically fulfilling  evenings in a long long time. One was "The Scheherazade Initiative" at Carnegie Hall; the other, "Beneath the Olive Tree" a documentary about Greek women in a concentration camp during the Greek Civil War 1946-49. The film's emotional power is matched only by some of the women's poetic and at times even comic eloquence in the face of unspeakable senseless torture. But both the film and the music at Carnegie Hall put a humanitarian spotlight of hope on the twisting tornados of rage and hopelessness.

"The Scheherazade Initiative," a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall to help end violence against women and girls throughout the world proved to be a momentous musical and theatrical occasion. But the evening's real music and drama was its glorious tribute to often helpless and forgotten women and girls who have and even now are enduring unimaginable cruelty and hatred - just because of being women and girls. There was the "music"of comfort in the words of "spoken word" artist Sarah Kay who at 14 became one of youngest poets to make herself a home and a name at the renown Bowery Poetry Club. She figuratively sang about the dignity and strength and loving kindness of women of all ages.

Singaporean-born Indian conductor George Mathew led the Scheherazade Initiative Orchestra - his sixth humanitarian concert at Carnegie Hall in nine years - with standout performances by   Elmira Darvarova, playing First Violin and Rober Langevin on Flute among many other thrillingly dramatic virtuosos. 

Mr. Mathew conducted both parts of Maurice Ravel's Sheherazade and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade Symphonic Suite Op. 35 with equal wizardry. 

A most moving part of "Beneath the Olive Tree" was one woman who had been a victim of torture actually giving money to her former torturer because he ended up penniless after his family had disowned him. In the film, Greek women who had nothing to do Communism  were asked to sign statements that they had renounced
their Communist sentiments or association. They had neither and refused to sign and thus were tortured.


Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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