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Arts & Culture

"Children of the Stone": Making Music, Transforming Lives in Palestine

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Bloomsbury Publishing
Sandy Tolan's book is about one man's dream to open a school to transform the lives of thousands of children through music.

The news out of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is almost unrelentingly bleak, and it seems to get worse with every passing day.  But underneath the media radar and away from the influence of government, there are many smaller stories of cooperation and hope.

One of those hopeful stories involves music, and the creation of a conservatory in Ramallah by a most unlikely founder.  Writer and Milwaukee native Sandy Tolan first met Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan in 1998.  It was then he saw a famous photograph that showed an eight-year-old Aburdewan throwing a projectile at an unseen Israeli enemy.  That picture was juxtaposed with one of an 18-year old Aburedwan playing a viola.

Figuring out how the first picture led to the second became Tolan’s new book, Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land:

Sandy Tolan was back in Milwaukee recently to talk about it at Boswell Book Company.  Tolan’s previous books include The Lemon Tree and Me and Hank.  He’s also a freelance radio producer for NPR and PRI, and is a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC.