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Children of the Stone
Cover of Children of the Stone
Children of the Stone
The Power of Music in a Hard Land
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It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than...
It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than...
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  • It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children—as Ramzi's life was transformed—through music.

    Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. "Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people," Barenboim said. "This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life."

    Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi's journey—from stone thrower to music student to school founder—and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It's a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.

About the Author-

  • Sandy Tolan is the author of Me & Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-five Years Later and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East. He has written for the New York Times Magazine and for more than 40 other magazines and newspapers. As cofounder of Homelands Productions, Tolan has produced dozens of radio documentaries for NPR and PRI. His work has won numerous awards, and he was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an I. F. Stone Fellow at the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC in Los Angeles

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 5, 2015
    In 1988, a photograph of an eight-year-old Palestinian boy poised to throw a stone became a widely reproduced symbol of the first Palestinian intifada. This eye-opening book from Tolan (The Lemon Tree) follows that boy, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, through his dramatic young adulthood. As Tolan reports, Aburedwan eventually left the Ramallah refugee camp where he grew up to study the viola, attending a New Hampshire summer camp on scholarship in 1997. Later, he was invited by Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli pianist and conductor, to join the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Barenboim, in partnership with close friend Edward Said, founded the orchestra as a step toward peaceful coexistence, with Israelis and Arabs playing music together. Aburedwan, however, became frustrated with the orchestra’s neutral stance during Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon and left to pursue his own dreams, opening a music school, Al Kamandjati, in Ramallah. Tolan’s exhaustive research and journalistic attention to detail shine through every page of this sweeping chronicle. While the narrative could have been tightened at some points, there’s no denying that Aburedwan’s story forces readers to be thoughtful. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2015
    Musicians who play together break down the barriers separating them.Veteran journalist Tolan (Communication and Journalism/Univ. of Southern California; The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, 2006, etc.) finds in the determined career of a Palestinian musician a chance for enduring harmony between Palestinians and Israelis. The poster boy for the First Intifada (1987-1993)-literally; a 1987 photograph of him as a young boy hurling stones at Israeli soldiers from his refugee camp became an iconic international image-Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan was a "child of the stones" growing up near Ramallah, West Bank, under the thumb of Israeli occupation. His mother abandoned him when he was 5, and Palestinian gangs murdered his father in 1990 due to his suspected collaboration with the Israelis. Raised by his grandfather, Ramzi absorbed the collective hatred and despair harbored by the Palestinians against their Israeli enforcers. After the Oslo Accord of 1993, many long-exiled Palestinians were allowed to return to the West Bank and Gaza, including a violinist trained in musical therapy, Mohammad Fadel, who started the Palestine National Conservatory of Music as part of an effort to infuse new life into Palestinian cultural institutions. Ramzi was chosen to play the viola, and he won a "playing for peace" scholarship to study in America and France. Eventually, he was swept into a grand friendship project between Palestinian-American literary scholar Edward Said and Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim in the form of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, based in Seville, Spain, that would promote peace through an Arab-Jewish musical partnership. Ramzi also started his own association in the West Bank, finding ways to support young Palestinian musicians while also making a political stand against Israeli occupation. A resolute, heart-rending story of real change and possibility in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 15, 2015

    Tolan (journalism, Univ. of Southern California Annenberg Sch. for Communication and Journalism; The Lemon Tree) has masterfully woven the story of the creation of a Palestinian music school, Al Kamandjati; the struggles of the man, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, who built the school with the help of multiple international supporters; and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Tolan takes the reader on a journey that follows the life of a young Palestinian boy from the time he was abandoned by his mother, through his years as a shahab (name given to Palestinian youths who throw stones) to his success as a musician and leader of a Palestinian orchestra. The education provided by the school, and the concerts that Ramzi's orchestra would perform, were designed with two primary goals. First, that he could in some way help to heal the pain suffered by the children of Palestine by giving them something in which they could find joy. Secondly, that the orchestra could assist in knocking down the walls dividing cultures by bringing young musicians from around the world to play together, work side by side, and teach one another. Tolan's incredible ability to tell the moving true stories of individuals with the historical backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict is again on display here. VERDICT This inspiring tale will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in humanity, Middle Eastern studies, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the healing power of music. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/15, p. 33.]--Brenna Smeall, AtoZdatabases, Omaha, NE

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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