A Syrian violinist gives thanks with music to his host village in French Provence

Trained at the Daniel Barenboim Academy, the young Syrian violinist Bilal Alnemr thanks Vauvenargues in his own way, with music, picturesque town in the south of France, which took in his parents when they fled the war in Syria.

“My parents arrived in France with two suitcases in 2016, five years after the start of the war. Vauvenargues became a wonderful place of welcome. I wanted to use my language, which is classical music, to give back to this people, of 1,000 inhabitants, which he gave my family, organizing a festival with great artists,” Bilal Alnemr told AFP.

At the foot of the Sainte Victoire mountain painted by Cézanne, near the castle where the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso is buried, the classical notes of the German composers Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Félix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) will resonate.

Also Arabic melodies, such as the Syrian sonata number 2 in A minor by the musician of Iraqi origin Solhi Alwadi (1934-2007), performed by renowned soloists and the New Symphony Orchestra of Aix en Provence.

The musician Wahed Bouhassoun, who often accompanies Jordi Savall, will also perform poetic songs with the oud from the region of the parents of Bilal, in southern Syria.

Bilal Alnemr, 25, was the first in his family to arrive in France, thanks to his talent on the violin. His parents were not musicians. His mother was an accountant and his father a bricklayer, who also worked in Lebanon as a rescue worker.

“When my father was a child, a girl played the accordion and the teacher presented her as an extraordinary person,” he says.

One day, Bilal’s father wanted to try a violin placed on a table in a cousin’s house, but he could not make a sound. “Later, in Lebanon, he heard a violin piece on the radio and said: + I couldn’t play the violin, but my son will +”.

Baby, Bilal received in Damascus a toy in the form of a violin. Then his father gave him this beautiful stringed instrument and he found a class at a music school, in a warehouse.

“I won a little contest, the prize was a blue walkman that I always have,” he recalls. Discovered by a teacher, he entered the Solhi Alwadi Conservatory and won an international competition.

Fully integrated parents

French teachers proposed to him in 2010, at the age of 13, to come to Aix en Provence to continue his studies.

The following year, with the war in Syria, it is “separation”. For years he did not see his family. Alone and worried about his loved ones in Damascus, Bilal chained violin classes and practices for hours.

After brilliant secondary studies, he entered the Paris Conservatory and managed to bring his sister and then his parents.

“They had just arrived and were a bit disoriented. We had an accommodation that was released in Vauvenargues and we made it available. The inhabitants furnished it,” recalls the mayor, Philippe Charrin.

Six years later his mother works at the village school and his father is an agent responsible for garbage.

“They’re completely integrated, it’s extraordinary,” Charrin marvels.

Billal, for his part, He performed alongside prestigious musicians such as Daniel Barenboim, Renaud Capuçon or Hélène Grimaud.

He obtained French nationality in 2021 as a personality who contributes to cultural dissemination.

The concerts will be attended by former teachers from Bilal’s high school, who begins to realize his dream of becoming an international soloist.

He remains faithful to the love he feels for his native country, as well as the affection he feels for his French host town and for all those who helped him on his way.