by Fatima AbdulKarim
Ramallah, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Through the alleys of the old city of Ramallah, it's easy to run into an old house with a touch of modernity, where music is escaping from its old window frames. It is a building that was transformed into a music center for underprivileged Palestinian children in 2002.
Ramzi Aburedwan, 38, a violist and composer who has spent most of his time, as a manager of the center, nurturing early talents and creating room for music to become a part of the daily reality of Palestinian children.
Aburedwan was named the Artist of Year by the Palestinian government in a ceremony that marked both the National Day of Culture and the birthday of late poet Mahmoud Darwish, who was committed to promoting music for children and teenagers and across Palestinian refugee camps despite poverty and oppression.
"Actually, I grew up in the refugee camp of Al-Am'ari like many other kids and we did participate in the first intifada, like we were one of the first kids who carried the stones to defend our freedom and liberty and I was one of the most lucky that had been taken a photo of and unfortunately not all the kids had this chance and also was lucky to still be alive," Aburedwan explained.
The musician told his story with pride, describing how lucky he feels to remain alive amid ever-growing tensions in the region and win his life with passion for music.
"I always dreamed to play music and to study music, but unfortunately this was not possible in the condition that we had been living in the camp," he said. "My family was a very poor family and there was no music school at the time. That's why music stayed as a far away dream."
In December 1987, the first Palestinian intifada broke out across the occupied Palestinian territories.
Back then, Aburedwan, who was living in Al-Am'ari refugee camp in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, was only eight years old.
Like many other Palestinian children at the time, he took part in what was known to millions around the world as "Intifadat alhijara (the stones uprising)," where Palestinians used stones and other peaceful means to fight back the Israeli army.
At that time, he was already a special talent emerging into the international art scene, but he never forgot his background.
"In our situation in Palestine, it's very clear that any form of empowering people is a resistance. That's why in my point of view, music and art can be part of the resistance, and unfortunately, I would love that Palestinian leaders can consider any kind of arts and sports and even agriculture as a form of resistance because our struggle today is to resist and to stay alive and to empower our children within this context," said Aburedwan.
In 2002, the second Palestinian intifada broke out, but this time Aburedwan's weapon was the viola. In that year, he opened the music center he is now running in Ramallah.
That was when he started to think about talented children who need the same opportunity his life has presented to him.
"That's why I started to think about starting Al-Kamandjati association, to give this opportunity and this chance for many kids who had the same dream I had when I was young," he said.
Aburedwan stresses the importance of empowerment, especially of youth, through music and recognition, urging the politicians to use arts, culture and sports to face occupation and provide a normal life to children who are living under stress and violence.
Empowerment is his motivation for founding the music center in the city where he was raised.
"Art always can be one of the best and more efficient tools to reflect the situation of a population living under oppression and apartheid as we do in Palestine," he said.
Speaking about his future plans, especially after being named the top cultural personality of the year 2017, Aburedwan said he is working on a local music tour in marginalized areas and a public festival where international groups can come to Palestine to revive local economy and cultural tourism.
"The idea is to revive all the historical place, historical village centers in Palestine and also to encourage what we call the cultural tourism and develop what we call the local economy," said Aburedwan.
The young artist is a gold medal winner from the Conservatoire of Angers in France, where he learnt to play the viola and earned his music diplomas.
Throughout his career, Redwan founded various musical groups such as the Dalouna and the National Ensemble of Arabic Music of Palestine, highlighting contemporary, folkloric and classical music from the orient and the world.