The crisis in the Middle East has seen 12 million people uprooted from their homes from Syria alone. They are fleeing war, destruction, torture, desperation and oppression. New legislation, resulting in recent border restrictions is leaving thousands of refugees stranded en route towards Western Europe and Greek authorities estimate that number to be approximately 70,000 in Greece alone during March 2016. Many of these refugees are being held in more than 40 detention centres and internment camps across the Greek islands and mainland.
As a response to the heart-breaking and disturbing situation, Julia Katarina and Liz Meadows, as Music with Refugees completed a one month tour of various locations across Greece, including Thessaloniki, Lesvos, Athens and Kos, to provide some joy and respite through sharing music and song, playing a mix of traditional Arabic and English songs with oud and guitar. Julia also speaks Arabic and can interpret for people and listen to their stories, some of which will be included in the blog on the website www.musicwithrefugees.org.
Hearing and singing familiar songs are comforting and makes them feel more at home and raises their spirits.
Julia is an English German mezzo-soprano, oud player & cellist who taught music for nearly four years in Palestine. She taught singing, both Western classical repertoire & Arabic song, cello & music theory & sang in church concerts. Previously she co-founded & toured with a chamber opera company in Britain, singing the title role in a staged production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Eurydice. Julia has completed 3 opera courses, including a Diploma at Birkbeck College, University of London. More recently, she has been playing Persian, Arabic & African music & accompanying herself & other singers on oud and cello. She plays & sings at arts & charity events, Sufi dhikrs & concerts for refugees, alternating between instruments, cultures & repertoires. Julia completed an MSc in Applied Music Psychology at Roehampton University, where she gave many recitals & performed a title role in their first opera production. In January she started Music with Refugees, giving concerts for refugee communities in England & Germany.
Liz plays guitar and cello and has performed and sung in many varied bands, choirs and musical ensembles, from punk bands to string quartets, traditional folk to all girl acapella groups for nearly 40 years. She is a very adaptable performer. She worked for a number of years with excluded and vulnerable young people, many in care, from across Devon, teaching music and facilitating song-writing as a means of self-expression in working through their trauma, and to raise self-esteem and bring joy. These skills as well as her fantastic sense of humour and unbounded optimism will be an asset to this project.
We first collaborated together, successfully bringing music to refugees as part of 'Embracing Refugees' and Beyond Borders Totnes and District's Refugee Integration programme. We make a strong team, complement each other well and are eager to offer some peace and beauty and share our love for humanity through our music.
Many Thanks for making this project happen and for all your generous support in financing travel, simple accommodation and living costs. We continued our in Greece in Autumn of last year and hope to reach more people in the military run camps in Northern areas this summer in collaboration with Amos Trust's Just Walk to Jerusalem.
Any amount raised beyond our personal expenses will go directly towards volunteer projects helping refugees at the centres with anything that is most urgently pressing (eg. Food, clothing, bedding, medical supplies). We will work hard to ensure your donations will be used to the greatest possible effect.
We will keep you updated with our work and the situation as we find it.
Links to Music with Refugees here: https://www.musiwithrefugees.org https://www.facebook.com/musicwithrefugees/?pnref=lhc
We will be most grateful for any donation towards our project. Never underestimate the power of collective action.
With Love and Compassion to all,
Liz and Julia