Fiddling with violin for Syrian refugee

B.C. Fiddle champion Sarah Tradewell joins violinist Sari Alesh in concert

Sari Alesh

Sari Alesh

Syrian violinist Sari Alesh marks his first anniversary in Canada with a bit of a party, and a benefit.

Alesh, originally from Damask, came here last February.

Syrian Refugee benefit concern at The Oaks Feb. 11 will fund, in part, Alesh in his endeavours at the University of Victoria to become a teacher, said organizer Joseph Blake.

“I was at a Christmas party and I heard this ‘Sari is at UVic and come February he loses his funding,’” Blake said. “My hope is we can raise $3,000 and get him through the spring. And I just wanted to hear him play again.”

Audiences at the May 2016 show with Saffron at The Oaks will remember Alesh. Blake says the classically trained violinist spent 30 minutes during that Syrian refugee benefit playing his way through the crowd.

“I did a fundraising concert with Saffron band. It was great and people liked it so much,” Alesh said. “I look forward to this concert. I’m very excited for this concert … I think this concert I can show my friends new songs. I’m going to play new songs for the concert that I didn’t play before.

“I’m going to play Arabic and Turkish music. I’m going to present my culture.” Alesh expects to finish his English studies in April, the focus of his first year here. “I’m planning to teach music. I hope that I can do that, I’m not sure yet, but I will try,” Alesh said. “I will try to find another job if I can’t teach music.”

A busy UVic student, Alesh couldn’t commit to an entire show, so Blake went in search of a fiddle to augment the violin.

He found two-time B.C. Fiddle champion Sarah Tradewell to perform.

“This concert will be different because Sarah is going to play fiddle music,” Alesh said. Tradewell is a Victoria-based fiddler and singer equally versatile in old time, country, and Celtic fiddle.

“It’s going one be fun and I suspect they’ll jam,” Blake said. “That’s my fantasy, a cross-cultural jam.”

The evening will also feature a silent auction. Alesh and Tradewell perform Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at The Oaks Restaurant and Tea house.

Tickets are $20 in advance at The Oaks, 2250 Oak Bay Ave. Call 250-590-3155 for more information.