Syrian violinist spreads message of peace through music


WATCH: Syrian violinist Sari Alesh left his home after fighting broke out — now he’s spreading a message of peace through his music. Calvin To met up with him in Victoria.

Sari Alesh hasn’t seen his family in more than three years.

In 2014, the 33-year-old violinist had to leave his home because of the war.

It also meant giving up teaching violin as well as leaving behind his position at the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra.

He describes the situation in Syria simply: “It’s just like, I would say, a nightmare. A long nightmare.”

Alesh spent almost a year and a half in Turkey before coming to Canada.

At the time, he barely spoke English and couldn’t write.

A Canadian friend helped him fill out his paperwork and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria helped him find sponsors.

He remembers the day he got the call that his application had been approved.

“I started crying, simply. It took me two, three days until I realized that it’s true,” he said.

Since arriving in Canada, he has had to overcome a language barrier and discrimination — but he says that overall, Canadians have been warm and welcoming.

He has already performed in concerts around Vancouver Island.

“I love Victoria so much and I’m very grateful, so I want to give back to the community,” he said. “And probably because I am a violinist so [playing music] is the only way I can do that.”

He hopes to be reunited with his family and to be able to return to see Syria again one day. But for now, he’s building a new life in Canada — making new friends, and spreading a message of peace through music.


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