A Conversation with Sandy Tolan: "Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land"


Tuesday, April 7, 2015 (All day)
Join Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree and Annenberg associate professor of journalism, in conversation with Philip Seib, professor of journalism and public diplomacy, for a discussion of Tolan’s new book, Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land.

In 1988, 8-year-old Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan was a stone-throwing child of the first Palestinian intifada, confronting an occupying Israeli army.  A few years later, he lay down his stone and picked up a musical instrument, and soon carried a dream to bring music to “all the children of Palestine.”  Today Ramzi’s “Al Kamandjati” music school has served thousands of Palestinian children.

In a book divided into three “Interludes” with four movements, “Stone,” “Instrument,” “Practice,” and “Resistance,” Tolan, author of the well-received The Lemon Tree (2006), portrays the multigenerational Israeli-Palestinian conflict by focusing on the life and musical abilities of one youngster, Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, and his family and friends. Though he sees his father and, later, his brother, murdered and spends his youth as a child of the stones (throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers), Ramzi dreams of building a music school in the Al Amari refugee camp outside the West Bank city of Ramallah. Though his life is torn by the conflict, it is also touched by music and fortune, and through the intervention of intellectual Edward Said and conductor-musician Daniel Barenboim, as well as musicians from around the world, Ramzi attends school in France, travels with his own musical group, and finds instruments, funds, and teachers for his own music school (later creating 10 of them), touching many lives and demonstrating “the transformative power of music in a land of brutality, beauty, and confinement.” This is an engrossing and powerful story, moving skillfully amid the failure of the never-ending battles and “peace” talks between Israel and Palestine and the determination of one brave young man to change his world.— Eloise Kinney, Booklist