American journalist Sandy Tolan was visiting Ramallah, a Palestinian village on the West Bank, about six miles from Jerusalem, in 1998 when he saw a poster for the National Conservatory of Music with two images of Ramzi Aburedwan.
One image was of an 8 year old Aburedwan throwing a rock at a tank. The other was of an 18-year-old Aburedwan playing the viola.
Tolan, a journalist who is a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, was at work on “The Lemon Tree,” a history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was published in 2006.
“I was looking to tell that story in human terms,” Tolan said in a telephone interview.
So he sought out Aburedwan, who he found living in a refugee camp near Ramallah. Aburedwan had fallen in love with music as a teenager and had received a scholarship to study viola at the National Regional Conservatory of Angers (France). While there, Aburedwan encountered other students with whom he created Ensemble Dal’Ouna, dedicated to Palestinian music and causes. Tolan subsequently wrote a book, “Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land,” about Aburedwan’s efforts to build a music school for Palestinian refugees.
Both Aburedan and Tolan will be in Jacksonville Friday. Ensemble Dal’Ouna will be performing at the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville, 3130 Parental Home Road, at 8 p.m., following a reception at 7 p.m. Tolan will introduce Aburedan and talk about his book, recently published in paperback.
“We decided it would be a cool thing to do a musical literary tour,” Tolan said.
He called his book “the story of one guy with a dream to build a music school in the midst of Israel’s military occupation.”
Admission to the reception and the concert is $60. Part of that money will go to the Al Kamandjati Association, which has as its mission “to bring music education to Palestinian children, in particular, to those who are most vulnerable – the children of the refugee camps.”