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THE SCOOP | TSO Musician Donates Trumpet To Syrian Refugee In Need

By Michael Vincent on April 12, 2017

TSO Principal Trumpet Andrew McCandless donates a replacement Trumpet to Syrian musician Abdo Elias (Photo: Jag Gundu)
TSO Principal Trumpet Andrew McCandless donates his trumpet to musician Abdo Elias who lost his fleeing the war in Syria. (Photo: Jag Gundu)

It’s been a particularly disastrous year for Syrians caught in the middle of a civil war conflict that has claimed the lives of 470,000 people, 55,000 of which are children. Since the conflict began, more than half the population of Syria – 11M people — have been displaced from their homes since 2011.

And at a time there has been a disturbing rise of anti-refugee sentiment across the western world. Be it Brexit in the UK, or the rising anti-immigrant policies by the US republican government, the numbers of Syrians seeking to find a new home to establish the very basics of life are mounting.

While no-one pretends that those of us in the arts can solve these serious and timely issues, there was a small but meaningful gesture that took place last week at Roy Thomson Hall that puts a human face on the crisis.

Andrew McCandless, Abdo Elias, Jules Cowan-Dewar, George Ghshranian, Yasir Ghshranian, Jessica Cowan-Dewar (Photo: Jag Gundu)
Andrew McCandless, Abdo Elias, Jules Cowan-Dewar, George Ghshranian, Yasir Ghshranian, Jessica Cowan-Dewar (Photo: Jag Gundu)

It all started last December, when Abdo Elias, a 20-year-old musician from Syria arrived in Canada with his uncle George and cousin Yesso. They settled in Mississauga, and have spent the last four months establishing their new lives in Canada. Like many refugees, Elias and his family arrived with very little. They fled Syria with only a few cherished personal items they could carry on their person. This meant Elias had to abandon the very thing that had been at the centre of his identity as a musician in Syria: his trumpet.

Andrew McCandless, Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Trumpet learned about Elias, and that he could not afford to buy a new trumpet. McCandless decided to help. He personally reached out and invited Elias and his family to attend a TSO rehearsal. After the rehearsal, McCandless presented him with a used trumpet from his own collection.

Elias, who does not speak English, was left speechless but the gesture needed no translation.

The lesson here? Maybe those of us in the arts can make more of a difference that we think.

For more CLASSICAL MUSIC NEWS, visit HERE.

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is Publisher of Ludwig Van. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
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THE SCOOP | COC Choose Final Five For 2018 COC Orchestra Academy

By Michael Vincent on January 5, 2018

The Canadian Opera Company today announced the names of five student musicians selected to participate in their annual three-week training program aimed at training the next generation of musicians to perform in an opera orchestra.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | The Delta Piano Trio Stays True To Shostakovich And Auerbach

By Norman Lebrecht on December 22, 2017

As the last releases of the year drop through the door, Delta Piano Trio's The Mirror With Three Faces is an instant ear-grabber.
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THE SCOOP | Ottawa’s Music and Beyond Baby Video Goes Viral

By Michael Vincent on January 9, 2018

Last week, Mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta and violist Marina Thibeault performed Brahms’ lullaby "Geistliches Wiegenlied" on stage in Ottawa while holding a seven-month-old baby. This is what happened.
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