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Right To Play and The Silkroad Ensemble Team Up to Empower Vulnerable Youth to Rise

Music For Development - Children at the microphone

Beirut, Lebanon – More than 300 young people, accompanied by cellist and philanthropist Yo Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble, have turned the rooftops and street of the Qasqas neighborhood in Beirut into a vast, interactive stage to perform a number of musical pieces, many of which they composed themselves.

The youth, most of whom are Syrian and Palestinian refugees, created the music over the past year as part of a Music For Development project, designed and implemented by Right To Play in partnership with the Silkroad Ensemble.

Music For Development - Yo-Yo Ma Performing with the Silkroad Ensemble

The concert marked the culmination of the first phase of this project, which brought at-risk and vulnerable youth living in Beirut together with professional musicians from the Silkroad Ensemble and local music coaches.

Many of these young people had lost their voices and their hope. The Music for Development project created an opportunity for them to explore their fears and face their challenges through the transformative power of music.

Through different forms of music, the project aims to provide a vehicle for the youth to explore and express their feelings, learn critical life skills like confidence, collaboration and communication, and advocate for their rights.

Music For Development - Yo-Yo Ma with Children in Music for Development Program

“These children are facing some of the most difficult life situations you could imagine, but they’re learning how to find their voice, resolve conflict and rise above trauma, all through the power of music and play,” said Kevin Frey, CEO of Right To Play International. “We’re so honoured to have been able to launch this project last year with Silkroad and their incredible musicians, and can’t wait to see how these youth will inspire their communities with the skills and knowledge they’ve gained through the Music For Development project.”

Music For Development - Selfie with Silkroad Musician

“Silkroad is thrilled to join the kids and their coaches to celebrate the role music, creativity, and play can have in creating hope and social change in their communities,” said Shane Shanahan, Co-Artistic Director of Silkroad. “Right To Play has been an important partner in this meaningful, collaborative work, and we are eager to share the pieces these children have created through the Music For Development project.”

Check out some photos from the concert!