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Syrian violinist pays tribute to homeland at September 17 show

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    Syrian violinist Mariela Shaker presents Alive from ‘Aleppo: A Night of Hope’ at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Franciscan Life Center on the campus of Lourdes University.

    Mark Kanawati

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    Lake Plains Chorus presents ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ at 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the Rhythm on the River Arts Series in Grand Rapids, Ohio.

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    Ashlee Wilcox

Syrian violinist Mariela Shaker only managed to flee the war in the capital of Aleppo because of music scholarship she received in 2013. As she watched her personal dreams torn to pieces by the conflict within her homeland, she was determined to find a way to make a difference.

“I was so determined I sent my application to different programs and universities all over the world,” she said. “We did not have electricity or water, so I was running, under bombs and mortars falling, to internet cafes to send my credentials and applications.”


Syrian violinist Mariela Shaker presents Alive from ‘Aleppo: A Night of Hope’ at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Franciscan Life Center on the campus of Lourdes University.

Mark Kanawati Enlarge

While in Aleppo, she studied business administration and graduated from the University of Aleppo. She also was a violin teacher at the Arabic Institute for Music. After six months of effort, she was finally accepted with a full tuition scholarship to Monmouth College in Illinois, where she received a second bachelor’s degree in music, followed by a master’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago.

Living safely in the United States, she reflects, “I live in constant fear about my family and friends who are surviving with only the basic necessities of life in Aleppo. I wonder if they will be alive tomorrow, and I wonder if I will be reunited with them one day.”

She has dedicated herself to be an advocate for those struggling with the reality of war in her home country. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, Brookings Institute, the United Nations, and the Arab American Institute. In 2015, she was honored at the White House and named a Champion of Change for World Refugees by President Barack Obama.

As a guest of the Social Services for the Arab Community, she will travel to Toledo to perform a benefit concert for the organization, area refugees, and those who remain overseas.

“I feel powerless to change the current tragedy in my county,” she said. “However, I believe so much in the power of music to remove barriers between peoples and nations; it has the power to unite our world and create a peace platform for everyone.”

Joined by the SonoNovo Chamber Orchestra and other Toledo-area musicians, Shaker will bring her music and personal story to a special concert, “Alive from Aleppo: A Night of Hope” at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Franciscan Life Center on the campus of Lourdes University, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Tickets are $50 per person or $85 per couple by calling 419-902-7732. More information on Shaker can be found at

Area choral singers are invited to be a part of combined Mass choir for the event. A rehearsal will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17. Dress for the performance is concert black. Those who would like to participate should contact Daniel Catalano at 419-243-1231 (Trinity Episcopal Church) or

■ Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts kicks off Family Weekend with a free showcase featuring performers from the College of Musical Arts, Department of Theatre and Film, and the School of Art beginning at 7 p.m. Friday in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.

■ The Rhythm on the River Arts Series hosts the Lake Plains Barbershop Chorus in “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” at 4 p.m. Sunday at the M.J. Wright Pavilion, on the towpath between the canal and the Maumee River in downtown Grand Rapids, Ohio. Concert-goers should bring their own blankets or chairs.

■ Michigan musician David Cooper has been named the new principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic. He is joined by the former concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, violinist Alex Kerr, and the Artistic Director of the Chamber Soloists of Detroit and pianist Pauline Martin, in a tour de force recital at 8 p.m. Friday at the Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor. Tickets $5-$30 are available at 734-769-2999 or

■ The Perrysburg Chorale is seeking new singers. No audition is required. The fall’s concert is “Through the Trenches: Honoring America’s Fight in World War I” with the performance at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4. The ensemble meets at 7 p.m. Mondays. Interested individuals are invited to attend a meet and greet followed by the first rehearsal at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 E. Boundary St., Perrysburg. More information is available at 419-874-9126 or

■ BGSU alumnus Roger Hall has been honored as an exemplary leader in music education by the National Association for Music Education. He was named this year’s Lowell Mason Fellow, honoring his 30 years of outstanding work in the field of music education. Lowell earned his master’s degree in conducting in from BGSU in 1984 and serves as the executive director of the Ohio Foundation for Music Education.

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