Exhibitionists·Video

What we read in the news about Syrians focuses on violence. These musicians focus on healing

Nour Kaadan and Tarek Ghriri use their band Diar and their work with newcomer kids to create hope and healing with music.

'Music can change people — and by changing people, you can change communities'

Tarek Ghriri working with newcomer children as part of the Music From Hope project. (CBC Arts)

Married couple Nour Kaadan and Tarek Ghriri are musicians — and newcomers from Syria. Kaadan is a percussionist and Ghriri is a guitarist who specializes in flamenco. Together, they have a band called Diar with vocalist Leen Hamo, playing traditional Arabic folk songs with a flamenco bent. And when they're not doing that, they're working with kids, with the intent to empower and inspire through learning how to create music.

The couple arrived in Toronto in 2017 after escaping the Syrian war and spending a few years in Lebanon, where they met Lucas Dols. He's the founder of Sounds of Change, an initiative to use music to engage kids living in refugee camps. Working with Dols and Sounds of Change, Kaadan and Ghriri trained to become music facilitators. And they brought their learnings with them to Canada, where they renamed the project Music From Hope and started offering workshops as volunteers. The first ones were successes, and they got funding from the Toronto Arts Council in 2018.

Watch the video:

Musicians Kaadan and Ghriri hope use their music to inspire newcomer kids — and spread the message of Syrian culture. Filmmaker: Teyama Alkamli 4:10

In this video by filmmaker Teyama Alkamli, you'll meet the couple two years after they arrived in Toronto. Ghriri points out what working with kids has done for them, as newcomers themselves: "It's kind of healing. It's kind of music therapy. It's not just for kids. Even for us, we went through a lot of difficulties, especially when we went out from Syria to live and until here. This period of time — it wasn't easy at all. So it was healing for us and healing for them at the same time."

Kaadan also sees value in sharing an image of Syrian people that isn't always communicated in news headlines. "We are in the news, always. We're killing each other or we're dying or we're fighting or we're drowning. I know this exists, but after that, when you take that away, what Syrians are — we give to the community that hosts us, put in our culture. It's really huge."

Find out more about Nour KaadanTarek Ghriri and Music From Hope.

Nour Kaadan and Tarek Ghriri. (CBC Arts)
Music From Hope. (CBC Arts)
Music From Hope. (CBC Arts)

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About the Author

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.