Stories from Afar & Up Close

A Message from the Organizers of the Baalbeck International Festival

Dear Internationally Renowned Artist who will be performing at the Baalbeck International Festival: Thank you for accepting the invitation to play at our festival in the historic site of Baalbeck. Now that the date of your performance is coming closer, we would like to inform you of the following:

- Lebanese people are always late, so your performance may start at 7.30 (as scheduled), or at 7.45, or at 8, or at 8.15pm. In any case, we cannot start until all the VIPs have arrived, so please be flexible when waiting in the dressing room to go on stage.

- Once you start, don’t be surprised if your soft rendition of Schubert disappears by the sound of the nearby mosque’s call for prayer. See, we cannot possibly know what time those pesky things start singing and schedule your concert around it, so you’ll just have to live with that.

- The local population will be very happy to receive you, and will demonstrate this intermittently with fireworks and gunshots around the venue throughout the entire duration of your (acoustic) concert. Don’t worry about it, it’s tradition.

- Similarly, a welcome-party will be held across the street, and cars will drive by honking loudly. Don’t worry about that either, we will send the police to ask them to turn down the volume of the music, and they will do so with blasting sirens so you are sure they are doing their job.

- Some of the audience will be there to listen to you play the piano. Most of them are not. They’re the ones with the expensive tickets sitting in the front row, and they will come and go as they please. Don’t think that they are rude for getting up in the middle of the concert – they’re just trying to get their money’s worth in terms of showing off. Similarly, we’ve made the floor-boards of the venue extra squeaky, to assure the full attention of the whole audience when the above-mentioned guests get up and walk out of the temple during your concert to answer their phones.

- If all the noise and disturbances make you feel unappreciated, know that we can’t help it, this is how people are here. The client is the king, so we can’t possibly ask our security people to tell paying guests to turn off their cell phones, or return on time after the break is over. That would just be impolite.

So, we hope you will have a great concert here at the International Festival of Baalbeck, and remember: it’s not about you – it’s about them!

Looking forward to seeing you here,

(signed) The Organizers of the Baalbeck International Festival

Can you tell we had a great night at David Fray’s acoustic piano-recital yesterday, in the Temple of Bacchus at the Baalbeck International Festival?