As a young boy during the first Palestinian Intifada, Ramzi Aburedwan was photographed with rocks in hand, about to throw one at an Israeli soldier in the West Bank.
It was 1988 and he was just 8 years old. Born in Bethlehem and raised in the al-Am’ari Refugee Camp, conflict marred his childhood. But at age 16, his life trajectory changed when he discovered a passion for the viola. Educated at Palestinian and French music conservatories, he went on to establish Al Kamandjâti Association to bring music education to Palestinians, particularly those in refugee camps.
Mr. Aburedwan’s inspiring true story is told in the book “Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land” by journalist and best-selling author Sandy Tolan. This month, corresponding with the book’s paperback release, Mr. Aburedwan’s Dal’ouna Ensemble is touring the United States, including a stop Saturday, September 17, at Guild Hall in East Hampton.
Dal’ouna Ensemble is a group of talented instrumentalists—a Palestinian percussionist, a Tunisian oud player, a Yugoslavian accordionist, and viola and buzouk player Mr. Aburedwan—sharing Palestinian folk, classical, jazz and world music. Moroccon vocalist Nidal Ibourk will join them in East Hampton, as will Mr. Tolan, who will read a short excerpt from “Children of the Stone” and introduce Mr. Aburedwan and the ensemble.
Mr. Aburedwan had been a boy trying to expel the Israeli army from his land, Mr. Tolan said. “Then he set down the stone as a teenager and picked up a bow and began playing music—but still had the same dream of creating freedom for his people.”
Mr. Tolan first met Mr. Aburedwan in 1998. The violist was 18 years old, with a dream of building a music school. “I ran into him by chance 10 years later, and he had done exactly that,” he recalled.
He described challenges Mr. Aburedwan’s music students continue to face in their everyday lives, including having to pass through checkpoints to get from village to village.
“Sometimes the soldiers make the kids open their music cases, and in some cases even play a song before they can pass,” he said. “So there’s a level of humiliation that is hard for people to understand if you don’t see it, or if you don’t talk to people who’ve experienced it first hand.”
Mr. Aburedwan’s message and his efforts to protect kids with music has totally inspired the children and adults he is working with, Mr. Tolan said.
“They begin to see that there are other possibilities for their lives,” Mr. Tolan said. “So that inspiration has led to a sense of dignity and self-worth in these children that is remarkable to witness. … It’s really something beautiful to see.”
Dal’ouna Ensemble performs Saturday, September 17, at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. A pre-performance wine and food reception for all ticketholders begins at 6 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m. Admission ranges from $17 to $40. To purchase tickets, call 631-324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.