04.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Displaced Syrian Youth Graduation Concert from Music School in Lebanon

Syrian traditional music is an endangered expression of Syrian intangible heritage and its safeguarding is an urgent need. Displaced Syrian communities in Lebanese refugee camps face difficult living conditions and suffer from war, displacement, violent political turmoil and extreme poverty. Developing and providing traditional music training opportunities for these communities helps them meet the challenges they face with tools for self-expression, knowledge, healing, creativity and communication, while safeguarding the rich and diverse Syrian musical through study and practice.

In the framework of its “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage” project, UNESCO collaborated with Action for Hope to form skilled professional musicians and ensembles through training and regular practice of Syrian traditional music. The initiative targeted youth from displaced Syrian communities in Lebanese refugee camps in the Beqaa and Beirut.

In this context, on Friday 22 September 2017, a group of Syrian students celebrated their graduation from the Action for Hope Music School in Lebanon and performed in front a large audience at Al-Madina Theatre in Beirut. The students, which were grouped into several ensembles, sang traditional Syrian songs and played diverse instruments: oud, buzuq, ney, saxophone, tabla, riqq or accordion.

The school followed a model of a 3-semester educational programme in one year, divided into regular weekly sessions of 6 to 8 hours, thus allowing students who go to regular schools to attend both programmes. The music schools only accepted musically talented youth between 10 and 18 years of age through auditions conducted by music professionals. The school offered two general sections: instrumental music and singing. The teaching methodology combined theoretical education with practical training.

It is hoped that this form of regular music study will lead to forming small music ensembles that can work professionally and to enrolling some of the students in formal music institutes so that they can pursue a higher level of training. A further study phase for distinguished students is being designed for implementation in the future.

The “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage” project, a pioneering initiative funded by the European Union with the support of the Flemish Government and Austria in partnership with ICCROM and ICOMOS. The project focuses on building technical capacities of Syrian experts and institutions and strengthening local, regional and international coordination to develop efficient responses.

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