The Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra is seen performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Dec. 1, 2017, at St. George Maronite Cathedral.
Photo The Daily Star /Moahamad Azakir
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The day after performing at the Baalbeck International Festival, Octavian Gheorghiu, lead clarinettist in the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, drives his Romanian-made Dacia Duster through Mount Lebanon's winding roads.The Gheorghius are among the nearly 30 Romanians in Lebanon's 90-strong symphonic orchestra. After the Lebanese themselves, Romanians are the most numerous nationality in the LPO. Maestro Walid Gholmieh, the former president of the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music, founded the LPO in 1998 . He determined the pool of talent among Lebanese musicians wasn't sufficient to sustain the LPO, so in the 2000s Gholmieh set off on a series of trips, to audition European musicians.Since the LPO sponsors their status, the players are forbidden to perform individually or in other ensembles without a permit.According to Lubnan Baalbaki, a Romanian-educated LPO conductor, there's a number of complementary reasons that make it hard to form a Lebanese-only symphonic orchestra.With over 30 concerts per season, the orchestra and symphonic music in Lebanon are blossoming and, Baalbaki says Romanians have undoubtedly played a big part in doing that.
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