Gloucester CIty Hall
“Children of the Stone”
With Israeli-Palestinian talks broken off and the two sides more polarized then ever, some peace activists are calling for new ways to talk about the problem. Award-winning reporter Sandy Tolan captures this conversation as it unfolds within the Palestinian community in his new book, “Children of the Stone”, which he will read from at a talk and book-signing cosponsored by the Cape Ann Forum and the Gloucester Writers Center on Sunday, May 3, Forum at 7 p.m. in Gloucester City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium.
“Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land” chronicles the journey of Palestinian musician Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan from angry 8-year-old stone thrower to adolescent music student to international performer who comes to see music as a vehicle for not only transcending the desolate circumstances his community confronts each day but for helping them regain their dignity.
It is an unlikely story: Ramzi, a child raised in an impoverished Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires others to work with him to build a school to transform the lives of thousands of children—as his life was transformed—through music.
Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist leaves the London Symphony Orchestra to work at the new school. An aspiring British opera singer moves to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Eminent Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim invites Ramzi to join his multicultural orchestra and comes to the West Bank to play there with Ramzi.
World renowned cellist Yoyo Ma calls the story “a non-fiction account that reflects one individual’s belief in the power of music and culture to transform lives. His story is proof of the famous words of Margaret Mead — ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”
The author will read from his book, show slides from the music school and play audio from his field research before answering questions and signing copies of the book, which was just issued this month and will be available for sale at the event.
Tolan is a radio and print journalist who reports and comments frequently on Palestine and Israel. He is the author of “The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East”, (2006), which has earned numerous honors and has been published in five languages. He also teaches journalism at the University of Southern California and writes frequently for Salon, the Christian Science Monitor and Al-Jazeera English.
Over the course of his career, he has reported from more than 30 countries, written for more than 40 newspapers and magazines, and produced hundreds of documentaries and features for NPR and Public Radio International. Since 1982 he has reported from American Indian country, along the U.S.-Mexico border, across New England and the American West, in Latin America, the Middle East, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and South and East Asia.
A central focus of his work has been the intersection of land conflicts, racial and ethnic identity, natural resources, and the global economy. He is a co-founder of Homelands Productions, an independent production company focusing on documentary work for public radio. He was a lead producer for the Homelands series WORKING, monthly profiles on workers around the world broadcast on public radio’s Marketplace. Currently he is senior producer for Feeding Nine Billion, an international documentary collaboration with public radio’s Marketplace.
Tolan has garnered more than 25 national and international journalism awards, mostly for his radio work, including a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton, three Robert F. Kennedy awards, a United Nations Gold Medal award, and two honors from the Overseas Press Club. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, Audubon, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and dozens of other publications. He was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
Prior to the presentation, forum organizers will announce the recipients of the 10th annual $500 scholarship award for the Gloucester High School senior who has done the most to educate fellow students on global issues.
This forum is cosponsored with the Gloucester Writers Center.