Video of Ottawa-area children's choir singing traditional Arabic song goes viral
More than 500,000 people have viewed choir's performance of Tala' al-Badru 'Alayna
People from around the world are singing the praises of an Ottawa-area children's choir after their performance of a traditional Arabic song exploded on YouTube this weekend.
In the video, posted earlier this week, about 200 schoolchildren perform a choral version of Tala' al-Badru 'Alayna, a song that was purportedly sung to the Prophet Muhammad upon his arrival in Medina after he left Mecca.
As of Sunday evening, the video had been viewed more than 600,000 times.
"I am an Arab [and] this video made me cry. I haven't cried like that in really long," wrote one commenter.
Another commenter called the decision to sing a traditional Arabic song "genuinely amazing" while a third said the video showed "there [is] still hope in this world."
People also reacted emotionally to the performance on Twitter.
My entire family cried at seeing this: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canadian?src=hash">#Canadian</a> children sang an ancient Arabic song of welcome to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Syrian?src=hash">#Syrian</a> refugees <a href="https://t.co/CSpwvcqC49">https://t.co/CSpwvcqC49</a>—@monaeltahawy
<a href="https://twitter.com/monaeltahawy">@monaeltahawy</a> Sung by Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims & atheists at a Christmas concert. Our diversity is our strength.—@DanieMontreal
'This is the reason we're doing music'
The footage was filmed during a December concert that featured mostly Grade 4 to 6 students from French public schools from around the region, said Robert Filion, the choral director at Ottawa's École secondaire publique De La Salle. He commissioned Laura Hawley to compose the arrangement of the song.
Although many people have connected the video with the Syrian refugee crisis, Filion said they came up with the idea of commissioning a choral version of Tala' al-Badru 'Alayna well before the Canadian government pledged to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016.
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"Every year we try to touch different cultures, and a year ago we started planning to do a Muslim-inspired piece," said Filion.
"We came up with that tune ... and the rest is history."
Filion learned Friday the video had been posted on YouTube, and by Saturday night he was being deluged with emails about how far the performance had spread.
"We had no idea. We were not going for this type of impact. This was just our own little concert a week and a half ago, and now all of the sudden the entire world seems to be enjoying it," Filion said.
"This is the reason we're doing music, to make an impact. But we never, never thought we were going to have this much of an impact."