Press Clipping
From a Refugee Camp to the Concert Stage

In 1998, Sandy Tolan, an American journalist and author, met Ramzi Aburedwan, a 19-year-old Palestinian musician living at the time with his impoverished grandparents in a refugee camp near Ramallah on the West Bank. That meeting led to a piece on National Public Radio about the young musician with a dream of a career in music and “Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land,” Mr. Tolan’s 2015 book about Mr. Aburedwan and the broader social and cultural context in which his story has unfolded.

On Saturday evening, Guild Hall will present a concert by Mr. Aburedwan and the Dal’Ouna Ensemble, which he founded in 2000, of a fusion of Palestinian folk, classical, jazz, and world music, composed by the musician to communicate his belief in the power of music and culture to change lives and counter oppression. Mr. Tolan will introduce the 7 p.m. program.

“I begin the evening by introducing myself,” said Mr. Tolan, “and tell the audience how I met Ramzi and the meaning of the story from the standpoint of a journalist who encountered this kid who had been a stone-throwing youth, who picked up a viola and had this dream of a music school.” A 6 p.m. reception will precede the concert, after which Mr. Aburedwan will sell CDs and Mr. Tolan will sign copies of “Children of the Stone.”

The first intifada (1987-1991), the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, marked Mr. Aburedwan’s childhood and adolescence. When he was 16, he participated in a music workshop, went on to study at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, and, in 1998, received a scholarship to study viola at the National Regional Conservatory of Angers, France, until 2005.

In addition to forming the ensemble, which is named after a festive Palestinian music genre, in 2002 he created Al Kamandjati, which is devoted to the education and schooling of Palestinian children by making music more accessible to them, especially those living in refugee camps and villages throughout Palestine and Lebanon.

The Guild Hall program is part of a 12-concert tour, the second in two years centered on the book and music. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours with Ramzi,” said Mr. Tolan, “interviewing him, getting his perspective on things, and spending time with his family over the years I was writing this book. The idea of a so-called musical-literary tour came out organically through our conversations.”

Mr. Tolan emphasized that the program is not primarily political. “It’s really musical and cultural and exposes a really beautiful aspect of Palestine culture to people who probably have no idea about it. And it’s not only a Palestinian story, it’s a universal story of somebody who had a dream to do something beautiful for children under exceptionally difficult circumstances. Because the story is told primarily through the lens of children, I think it tends to soften people’s perspective and to have them understand that children everywhere should have the right to freedom of movement and to freedom in general.”

Members of the ensemble include, in addition to Mr. Aburedwan on violin and bouzouk, Tareq Rantisi, a percussionist from Palestine, Ziad Ben Youssef, an oud player from Tunisia, Edwin Buger, an accordionist from Yugoslavia, and a guest vocalist, Nidal Ibouk, a Moroccan citizen born in Rabat.

Tickets are $17 to $40, $15 to $38 for members, and include the pre-performance wine reception.