MILAN, 6 JUNE – A story of a dream. A different point of view of the “Balkan route”, told by two musicians and a Syrian violin. Alaa Arsheed, a composer from Syria who has been living in Italy since 2015, and his friend and Italian jazz musician and producer Isaac de Martin, hope to replicate, accompanied by their music, the dangerous journey across the Balkans made by thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing war and persecutions, to enter the European Union. Their trip will be backwards, along the route full of challenges, through barriers, refugee camps, from Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and finally Greece.
Alaa and Isaac developed their idea last April after a concert of their band, the Adovabadan Jazz Orchestra, at the Festival of Journalism in Perugia. The tournée through the Balkans will be a chance to meet people, record music with them, use art, as body painting and other kind of artistic performances, while filming a documentary to portrait the historical era in which we are living.
“At each stage of our journey, in about 30 days, we will meet with talented artists, we will record them playing and collect a vast repertoire of sounds and music samples. We will also meet people in refugee camps, and involve them in our art performances, to turn gray into colors and light up smiles. We will go through Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece. Once back in Italy we will produce a music album”, the two artists explain from the crowdfunding web site created to support the initiative, underling how “music is a powerful mean of dialogue”. The album will be called “Seeds – I play with Mozart”: “We want to make a documentary of our journey to draw a portrait of Europe of our days”.
Alaa and Isaac seek funds to rent a camper, set it up as a small recording studio, with 2 video-makers documenting the trip. Once back in Italy the film will be printed on a Dvd and presented at festivals and movie theaters. Much of the budget will be invested in buying cameras, brushes, canvases, colors, musical instruments to bring and donate to people in refugee camps. They will be taught how to use them and they will be involved in making a photographic book. At each stage of the journey, the two musicians will also plant an apple tree as the symbol of peace, rebirth and beauty never dying out.
Alaa and Isaac met through Fabrica, the Benetton Communications Research Center who was alerted of the Syrian musician by a tweet of Italian actor Alessandro Gassmann, UNHCR’s goodwill ambassador, who had met him while shooting “Torn”, a documentary film about refugees in Lebanon and Syria. Gassmann was especially touched by the young man’s story, a talented Syrian violinist who had fled Syria to Lebanon in 2011 with the dream of finally playing in Europe. (@OnuItalia/FM)