Goosebumps at Join-in concert ‘Brother’

More than 2,500 children from Dutch asylum centres and Overijssel primary schools are participating this week in a special music project by the Orchestra from the East, Refugee Work The Netherlands and the Sonnevanck Theatre. “Singing Verdi together: will dissolve all boundaries”.

The children come from Iraq, Syria and Iran, but today you cannot tell the difference. When the orchestra plays the melody of the famous drinking song from La Traviata by Verdi, they sing along as loudly as their Dutch peers. “Over, the dark days are over” is deafeningly sung through the large hall of the Music centre in Enschede. “It gives me goosebumps”, says Freek den Hartogh. “So many different children – it doesn’t matter how long they have been in the Netherlands or how tragic their history is: today they belong together”.

Den Hartogh is one of the two main characters in Brother, the jointly produced co-performance from the Orchestra of the East and Sonnevanck Theatre, which ran yesterday and today in the Music Centre in Enschede. Five performances in total are on the programme, with an audience of more than 500 children each time. “Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland (Refugee Work The Netherlands) asked us to produce this concert”, says educational assistant Monique Wijnker of the Orchestra of the East. “We have done this before in the past. The addition of children from asylum centres is a new element. In addition to having to overcome a language problem, you also have to take sensitivities into account. The intention is for the children to forget their worries for a moment, not to remind them of their past”.

The concerts were practised during a series of ten lessons, both at the participating schools and at the asylum centres. Main character den Hartogh himself personally visited many of the participating asylum centres in the country. “We make the children familiar with the music and lyrics through animation films. In this way they overcome their language deficit. Musically they are often even further than Dutch children and they join in enthusiastically. During the lesson I get to bond with them. During the concert they have to help me to resolve the conflict with my brother about a common love”.

Yahya (13) from the asylum centre in Dronten is enjoying the concert to the full. “In class I thought: it’s just a story. Here in the theatre it seems real”. He thinks that the two brothers will eventually make peace. “It should always be like that in the world”. He has never seen an orchestra like the Orchestra of the East before. “This is a first for me. In Dronten I was allowed to hold a violin. I like rap, but the sound that comes from this small object may be even better. (Source: Tubantia 16-06-2017)

The Heutink Foundation is one of the sponsors of the Join-in concerts.