We are very excited to announce that our 2019 recording of The Girl from Aleppo will be released by Convivium Records on 1st May. We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in such an exciting project and to have had the chance to perform such a beautiful piece of music.
The cantata The Girl from Aleppo, was commissioned by NCCGB to mark the occasion of our 20th Anniversary in 2018 and had its premiere at Birmingham Town Hall on 10th August, 2018.
The Girl from Aleppo is the story of Nujeen Mustafa. It was written by Christina Lamb, upon which Kevin Crossley-Holland based his libretto, that has been set to music by Cecilia McDowall.
During these last years, thousands of child refugees have trekked from Syria, through Turkey to Europe in search of asylum.One of these children was Nujeen Mustafa, a remarkable Kurdish teenager with cerebral palsy. She had never been to school – but taught herself fluent English by watching American soap-operas. War drove Nujeen from her home in Aleppo at the age of 16. Her elder sister Nasrine pushed her 3593 miles in a rickety second-hand wheelchair across nine countries to Germany. They navigated rough seas, people-smugglers, bumpy fields and hostile border guards. Nevertheless, Nujeen remained with a smile on her face. She chatted about her dream of becoming an astronaut and the things she had learnt on TV.
Her remarkable journey was followed by the journalist Christina Lamb (co-author of I am Malala). Christina subsequently co-authored Nujeen’s dramatic story in her biography ‘The Girl from Aleppo’.
The five-movement cantata by Kevin Crossley-Holland retells that story. Nujeen’s experience unfolds in the musical narrative; chorales, haunting vocal solos, intense violin solos, restless choruses and body percussion. These all drive a course from country to country to arrive, thankfully, in Germany. In brief, it is a journey of hope and extraordinary fortitude against all the odds, reflected in the beautiful music composed by Cecilia McDowall.
Kate McCallum, Chair of Trustees, says: “Cecilia McDowall has composed a wonderful piece of music with libretto written by Kevin Crossley-Holland to bring to choral life ‘The Girl From Aleppo’. The work was commissioned by the trustees of the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain to celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2018. The trustees hope the release of this wonderful choral piece will be as compelling to the listeners as it is to the children’s choir.”
The cantata will be broadcast in its entirety on BBC Radio 3 at around 9.15pm on Thursday 30th May 2020.