A Concert of Hope for Little Amal ~4-4:30pm

Presented by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra with
Thomas More University Choral Activities
Little Miami Select Choirs
Northern Kentucky University Choirs

Led by CCO Associate Conductor Daniel Parsley
Suad Bushnaq: The Borrowed Dress
Ken Burton: Rest

Cecilia McDowall: Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo
Sujean Kim, Violin

Maren Hrivnak, Soprano
Jackie Stevens, Soprano

4:30-6:00pm Freedom Center remains open for invitees

Suad Bushnaq: The Borrowed Dress Program Notes

‘The borrowed dress doesn’t keep one warm, and if it does, it doesn’t last for long.’ – Arab proverb

The piece is based on a film score that I composed for an award-winning documentary named The Borrowed Dress. Directed by Leen Alfaisal, it follows a Syrian family that’s been scattered across Europe due to the war. Grandmother Susu insists on going back to the warmth of her Damascus house despite the fact that all her children are now in diaspora. That proverb is her reasoning behind wanting to be home. The music is a long sigh, a longing for the familiar, and a plea for things to go back to the way they were.

On a personal level, The Borrowed Dress transcends the issue of being away from home, and touches upon losing family members and loved ones…..those who are essentially our ‘home’. It is a cry for someone I love who is slowly drifting away into the unknown, as I stand there helpless, wondering what borrowed dress will keep me warm once they’re gone. – Suad Bushnaq

Ken Burton: Rest Lyrics
Come unto Him all ye that labour and He will give you rest. His yoke is easy, His burdun light. Take His Yoke upon you and learn of Him; you’ll find rest unto your soul.

Cecilia McDowall: Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo Program Notes
Commissioned by The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain on its 20th Anniversary and first performed by the Choirs in Birmingham Town Hall on 10 August, 2018, Harriet Mackenzie, violin, Claire Dunham, piano, conducted by Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo tells the extraordinary story of Nujeen Mustafa, a Kurdish teenager with cerebral palsy forced by war to flee her home and embark on an arduous journey to Europe with her sister. In this five-movement cantata Nujeen’s story – recounted in her biography ‘The Girl from Aleppo’ (co-authored by Christina Lamb) – is retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland and richly scored by Cecilia McDowall. A wealth of musical effects are employed to capture the narrative, including chorales, rhythmic spoken sections, body percussion, and a solo violin part infused with Middle Eastern flavours. The prevailing mood of Nujeen’s story is embodied by the final line of a chorale that bookends this unique concert work: ‘singing the song of life itself.’

Cecilia McDowall: Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo Lyrics
1. Orphans of the World

This wreath of words is what we have
And flowers of song all we can give
Singing sorrow but singing tomorrow
Singing the song of life itself

Nujeen. Nujeen
New life. That’s me!
But I can’t walk, can’t balance
My two legs have lives of their own
Plaster, braces, operations
I’m stuck forever on tiptoes
I often dream about being an astronaut
Floating in space, your legs don’t matter

The scent of rosewater, hookah pipes
Pistachios. That’s how Aleppo used to be

Dust, rubble. Every window broken
Aleppo, Aleppo… like a ghost town

We Kurds: orphans of the world
My mother, father, my siblings
All ten of us in three rooms
TV was my school, TV was my friend. I learned
Soap-opera English by watching TV
Shelling, looting, hammering, bombing
We knew we had to leave
Just me, my sister Nasrine, and my wheelchair
Sometimes sisters can be as sweet as birds

Remember me? Remember
I’m not a baby, not a girl, not a boy
I’m just a number, an obstacle
I’m on the wrong side
Remember. Remember me?

2. Thousands milling at the border (The Journey)
Thousands milling at the border. Suitcases
Bundles. Refugees-nothing!
We sold heirlooms. Family homes
One man said he sold his kidney
We raised money to buy life jackets
A place on a dinghy, freedom

3. I had never seen the sea before
I had never seen the sea before
The mist, the spray. How beautiful it is!
Our phones we tied inside party balloons
To keep them dry on the crossing
Of course I can’t swim. I’ve never been in water
None of us could swim. I became Poseidon
That dove pebble a little Afghan boy
Gave me: I held it for luck between my awkward fingers

4. A lost tribe pushed from border to border
A lost tribe pushed from border to border
Stampeding for a bus, swarming across fields
In the camps children drew pictures
With coloured pencils: a flower bright as blood
The guards lobbed food at us–lawyers, doctors
Professors, businessmen. We are not animals
The jerking, the jolting, the pain, the pain
And Nasrine always pushing, pushing
Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary
Croatia, Slovenia, Austria …
‘Please, Germany? Where is Germany?’
The policeman smiled
‘Willkommen! Welcome to Germany!’

5. Everyday Wonders
My head, my heart. Skipping and singing
What delights me are everyday wonders:
People talking to me because I’m smiling
My head, my heart. Skipping and singing
Happy frogs croaking, summer rain falling
Even the ducks seemed to welcome me
A chance to brush my teeth in the morning
Everything on time, all the strict rules
Waking early, my first ever morning at school
My pink and blue rucksack, red subject folders
Sometimes in my dreams I make friends …
The animals at the zoo, some are weird
As I am. A smiling refugee. Am I an alien?
Laugh as long as you breathe. Love as long as you live
These are my favourite sayings
My head, my heart. Skipping and singing
Nujeen. Nujeen, New life. That’s me

This wreath of words is our choice
These flowers of song, they are our voice
Snging sorrow, singing tomorrow, singing tomorrow
Singing the song of life itself

Support Little Amal’s Visit to Cincinnati

Gifts of $100 or above will receive a commemorative item to celebrate her visit.

Cincinnati Producing Partners

Cincinnati Artistic Partners


Learning Through Art, Inc.

A Picture’s Worth


Jason Alexander Holmes


Cincinnati Event Sponsors

Dr. Lesley Gilbertson and Dr. William Hurford

Oliver Family Foundation


Steve & Helen Rindsberg

Susan Glas

Evangelina Giron

Rebecca Longardner

Patty & Keith Rosely

Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Simon

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Amal Walks Across America was made possible through the generosity of the Doris Duke Foundation and the Bezos Family Foundation, with additional support from Choose Love, The Conrad Presbys Foundation, the Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, the McMillan Stewart Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, The Shapiro Foundation, and Students Rebuild.