top of page


A remarkable story about hope, determination and the power of music.

The Orontes Guitarists are a group of Syrian musicians who defied all odds and made their way to Canada through a fellowship from the Artist Protection Fund that supports threatened artists in war zones: not only to escape the war in Syria, but also to build their careers as musicians.


The Orontes, cofounded by Gaby Al Botros, was started in Beirut by a group of Syrian guitarists, under the guidance and support of the world-renowned U.S. classical guitarist and composer Susan McDonald, who teaches in conflict zones. Shortly after the Syrian conflict began in 2011, they faced violence in Damascus where they and their families were at risk from extremist groups and often targeted as musicians. They arranged multiple concerts, some of which had to be cancelled at the last minute due to violent incursions. While still in Damascus, the quartet played a concert with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra in October 2016. Shortly before the show started, a mortar shell exploded in the entryway to the opera house. People were injured. Many ran home. But some stayed, and the conductor decided the show would go on.

Late, the group was encouraged to apply for the Artist Protection Fund, which helps threatened artists continue their work in safe countries. After a meticulous application process, the musicians were approved by the APF. The fund arranged for them to be hosted by the University of Victoria in Canada. When they arrived to Canada, the Orontes took their universal message of peace through music to cities across Canada. Now, the Orontes officially call Canada home!

Orontes featuring Simon Farintosh
Syrian Symphony Orchestra | Concierto Andaluz - Joaquin Rodrigo
Naseer Shamma & The Orontes

They have the real potential to put a new face on the Syrian crisis!

Susan McDonald; Guitarist, Composer.

bottom of page