Oxford University has lent a 19th century violin from its historic instruments collection to a young musician who is also a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon.

The Gesture

Oxford University has lent Aboud Kaplo, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, a 19th century violin from its historic instruments collection, when they saw he had incredible musical talent but lack of proper instrument.

The university has a Musical Instruments Bate Collection with over 2000 historic instruments that date back to the Middle Ages, including this violin, which was made in Germany.

Curator Andy Lamb says: “the moment I read about this lad’s situation”, he immediately thought about the collection and that it “could make some kind of positive contribution.”

“I immediately had an instrument in mind. It belonged to a former curator, Dr Helene Larue, a very generous person, and I knew that if she had been confronted with this situation, she would have donated an instrument instantly.”

“The violin is not rare or ancient enough to be regarded as a precious resource, but it’s significantly better than a cheap modern factory instrument, and it’s entirely the kind of instrument we would lend to a student here at Oxford,” he said.

Aboud, in the midst of his struggles, was very interested in music, and started teaching himself how to play the instrument using just Youtube videos. When Kaplo received the gift, he said he “cannot express by words” how he felt. “I’m so happy, so excited”.

“Playing the violin helps me express my feelings. I want to go on to study music and play on a big stage and travel the world.”

How They Made The Decision

The film maker Susie Attwood, who used to study at the university’s music faculty, came across Kaplo and reportedly met him and his family while making a movie about Christian Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. She noticed that he had a talent but had a “rattly” toy violin.

“Life is very difficult for Syrians living in Lebanon, but seeing how music provides such hope for someone like Aboud is very moving. I couldn’t just let it go.” she said. She pointed out that Christian Syrian refugees live a particularly hard life in Lebanon as they live “in between existence,” with extreme difficulty finding work or capacity to provide their children with good quality education.

When Attwood contacted Oxford university, the Beta Collection then immediately wanted to help.

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Brie Matteson
Brie is a university advisor and writer who worked with top Ivy League institutions after achieving her doctorate from UCLA. She has more than ten years of experience, and enjoys writing about student and college-based news as well as investigative reporting.


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