Hi, my name is Lamar Elias. I am 14 years old, and I was born in Bethlehem, where I currently live.

I started playing the violin when I was eight and a half years old at Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, and I enjoy playing classical as well as Arabic music. I started playing a musical instrument after getting jealous of my brother who played the qanoun.  In the beginning it was a hobby I can spend my free time with. But after loving this instrument I started thinking of it as a career: I am looking forward to studying as a violinist as well as a conductor after finishing my high school. I can’t imagine my life without my violin - by playing I express my feelings; by playing I say my opinion, by playing I solve my problems.

The young musicians attended Pro Corda Chamber Orchestra Course, and their residency in London concluded with a free public showcase concert in London on 29th July.

For more information about the British Council/Choir of London Bursary Scheme, please contact us at bursary@choiroflondon.org. You can keep up-to-date with all of the news about the Bursary Scheme and other Choir of London projects by ‘liking’ our Facebook page or following us on Twitter.

Applications for next year’s Bursary Scheme will open in early 2015.

My name is Rashed Zarour and I am from Jenin in the north of the West Bank. I've lived here for the whole of my life and my parents are both from here. I was raised in a musical family - my mum and dad were both in love with music, and both of my sisters sing and play musical instruments. Music is my passion that I hold on to no matter what. I have been playing the viola for about a year and a half now - I started with the violin, then also started learning the cello, but the feeling I get when I play the viola cannot be described. I was amazed by the deep yet soft sound of it, and I know it's the perfect instrument for me. 

I am Sari Tarazi, a 14 year old Palestinian. I have been living in Jerusalem since I was born. My origin is a mix of two areas that I have never lived in. My father’s family is originally from Gaza, and my mother’s is from Jaffa.

Since I was little, music has been a significant part in my life. Since my sister played the violin I wanted to do the same. Unfortunately I could not play the violin and I had to play another instrument, which was the trumpet so I was able to join the conservatory when I was 6 years old.

My name is Ibrahim Masri, I’m 14 years old, I was born and am still living in Nablus. I started playing violin when I was 10 years old - I’ve loved music, and especially the violin, since I was a child, and I always wanted to learn how to play it. I joined the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music as soon as it opened its Nablus branch in 2010.

Music to me now is my passion, my own language that I can talk and express myself through it, something that I can’t live without it - I’m really interested in classical music.

The British Council/Choir of London Bursary Scheme gives young Palestinian musicians the chance to visit the UK for a short period of study, based around a residential music course with young British musicians, followed by a residency in London playing with Choir of London musicians, and ending with a showcase concert.

After consideration of online applications from interested students, a judging panel visited Palestine in April to audition 28 students from Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Gaza (by video-link), Bethlehem and Hebron. The winning students Sari Tarazi (14, from Jerusalem), Rashed Zarour (15, from Jenin), Ibrahim Masri (14, from Nablus) and Lamar Elias (14, from Bethlehem) attended the week-long Pro Corda Chamber Orchestra course, playing repertoire including Beethoven’s 7th Symphony with young British musicians, before spending five days based at the Royal Academy of Music working closely with professional musicians towards a free public showcase concert on 29th July.

A fifth student was chosen to join them: 14-year-old pianist, Sara Aqel, from Gaza. Tragically, due to the conflict that was raging in Gaza at the time, Sara was not granted permission to travel, and consequently missed out on what would have been an unforgettable experience. You can read more about Sara’s story here.

Copyright © 2014 Choir of London. All rights reserved.

The Choir of London Trust is a UK Registered Charity no. 1112757.

Choir of London Bursary Scheme

Ibrahim Masri (violin) - 14, from Nablus

Lamar Elias (violin) - 14, from Bethlehem

Sari Tarazi (trumpet) - 14, from Jerusalem

Rashed Zarour (viola) - 15, from Jenin

I’m thinking of the Bursary Scheme as a great opportunity to improve my violin playing technique. I see this opportunity as a way to tell the world about the Palestinian case, and to show them that despite everything Palestine is going through, there is still plenty of culture in Palestine, and there are musicians, and there are a lot of people who are interested in music - you can see that from the audiences that fill every concert!

During my life, I had different special musical experiences within the country, however I consider this Bursary as the most rewarding experience of all; it improves my music skills and allows me to interact and exchange experiences with other musicians on a cultural and social aspect. I also get the chance to represent the musicians of Palestine. I believe that music is a language that unifies people. Playing classical music makes me happy and I really like that. Another interest of mine is rollerblading. I am looking forward to this experience and I hope that I meet people who will accompany me on this special journey.

Being a musician in Palestine is not easy, we have a lot of difficulties and barriers that hold us back whether it's getting permits to go play a concert in Jerusalem, or just moving from one city to another for classes or workshops. 

The Bursary Scheme has offered me this amazing opportunity to go to the UK, which means getting a lot of new chances in music, and new ways and people to learn from, and improve my musical level, and for that I am really grateful. 

By joining the British Council / Choir of London Bursary Scheme not only can I exchange my experience with other musicians, which will push me a step further, but also as Palestinians we can reach everyone and can change the idea that the world has about Palestine with our music.

I am Sara Aqel, a 14 year old from Palestine. My family is originally from Jerusalem, but I was born in Gaza and I have lived there ever since.

I started out my journey when I was five years old as a ballet dancer, but I later found out that I will not make it because I am not in the right “shape” as they say. So I started looking for something new, and I found an opportunity to start playing piano at the age of 8. It sounded as an easy job at the beginning, yet it became harder with time and I started to find it very challenging.

Sara Aqel (piano) - 14, from Gaza

Then, the 2008/2009 Gaza war came along, and I felt that music was my only friend at that time. It helped me get over the fear and the depression, and I felt like it was protecting me from the horrible bombing. That is when I fell in love with the piano all over again.

And ever since then, music was there for me. I could not honestly type what it really means to me, but I do know  that music can change people, and people can change the world.

Home    About   Projects    Education    Media    Support us    Contact    Blog    Links