Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra welcomes 1,000 newcomers to free performance
‘If it’s not for them, it will be for their child' says Syrian immigrant translating for recent arrivals
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra invited 1,000 newcomers to their performance Sunday afternoon free of charge.
The performance, called Once Upon A Dance, featured dance troupes from across the province performing works from Manitoba's history.
Programs were offered in Arabic, and the English portions of the performance were translated into Arabic for the audience.
"We just said, 'OK, what can we do that will actually be a very special kind of welcome for new Canadians, that shows how Manitobans work together that really shows how we are a nation that has come together [with] all sorts of cultural groups?'" said WSO executive director Trudy Schroeder.
So they teamed up with the Canada Council for the Arts, The Winnipeg Foundation and SunLife to make it happen.
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At first, they offered 600 tickets, but soon those were accounted for and another 700 people were on the waiting list.
"There was a huge welcome, a huge appreciation of this kind of welcome to Canada," said Schroeder.
"Most of them, they will not be able to understand English. Some of them, they started having school last year, but it will take them awhile," said Alhalabi. "We want to show them that we care about them … It will be a very good chance for them to digest the system we have here. If it's not for them, it will be for their child."
Alhalabi's eight-year-old daughter Janaa said it was her first time seeing the Symphony, and she was most excited to see her dad speak.
"I'm curious that like my dad is going to come on the stage, and he's going to explain," she said.
Schroeder said the response was so overwhelming they may consider doing similar performances in the future.
Even Mayor Brian Bowman made an appearance at the matinee concert.
"Early indications are this is something we should do again, but I think the beautiful thing is that culture and music does in fact cross across so many lines. People can really understand each other and appreciate the value and beauty of what people do in the arts."