Syrian refugee given Oxford violin to feature in new film

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The story of Aboud Kaplo, a 14 year-old Syrian refugee who was loaned a historic violin by Oxford University, will be told in new film The Wait.

Directed by Susie Attwood, the 40-minute documentary concerns Syrian Christian refugees in Lebanon.

Its Oxford premiere will be on Monday 21st of May at 17:30 at Queen’s; entry is free but tickets must be booked here beforehand.

Attwood met Aboud whilst filming at a Syriac Orthodox monastery, where families like the Kaplos were waiting to be granted visas.

The filmmaker, who studied music at Queen’s, was impressed by his talent for and interest in the violin, especially since he had had to teach himself using a “cheap and rattly” instrument and YouTube tutorials.

She contacted the university’s Bate Collection, which has over 2,000 orchestral instruments and describes itself as “one of the most magnificent collections of musical instruments in the world”. Its curator, Andy Lamb, sent Aboud a high-quality 19th century German violin.

Aboud said he was unable to “express by words how I feel – I’m so happy, so excited”.

“Playing the violin helps me express my feelings. I want to go on to study music and play on a big stage and travel the world.”

His family has recently been granted a visa to Australia.

The Bate collection loans instruments to students and staff of the university. Its curator, Andy Lamb, said: “the moment I read about this lad’s situation [I thought the collection] could make some kind of positive contribution.

“The violin is not rare or ancient enough to be regarded as a precious resource, but it’s significantly better than a cheap modern factory instrument, and it’s entirely the kind of instrument we would lend to a student here at Oxford”.

Attwood said that “It was the least I could do to help Aboud and his family who often feel they are forgotten as refugees. I am more than grateful to the Bate Collection for facilitating it all. Life is very difficult for Syrians living in Lebanon, but seeing how music provides such hope for someone like Aboud is very moving. I couldn’t just let it go.”

The film will be followed by a short Q&A with Atwood and Daniel Gabriel, ex-Human Rights Director for a UN NGO, and drinks.

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