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Singing for Syria

Fairfield Native Brings Music to Refugees



›› This June, Fairfield-native and Fairfield High School graduate Dylan Connor found himself at the home of a family of Syrian refugees in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli. He and some 30 other volunteers working with children displaced by the Syrian Civil War at the nearby Al Salam School crammed into the family’s small apartment where dozens of large platters of spiced meat, rice, stuffed squash, eggplant, hummus and other Syrian dishes covered nearly every inch of the floor, a symbol of gratitude from the mother of one of their students.

It was a quiet, breezy night in Reyhanli, and after the meal the group stepped out onto the porch as the woman read from a book of poetry, words inspired by the bloody revolution that has ravaged Syria for over three years, claiming some 200,000 lives and forcing millions to flee from their homeland. The woman’s son, missing a leg from an explosion set off during the fighting, began to sing along.

“He had this voice full of pain,” recalls the 39-year-old Connor, who traveled to Turkey with the charity foundation Karam (“generosity”
in Arabic) in order to give music lessons to the children at Al Salam. “People who are trying to make it in music, they try to instill their voice with that kind of emotion, but his voice was just so pure. I really felt like at that moment I was in the land of the revolution.”

In recent years, Connor’s voice has emerged as one of the clearest reminders of the pain that grips Syria under the control of President Bashar al-Assad. A high school Latin teacher and a singer/songwriter popular around the Fairfield county club and coffee shop scene, he started writing topical songs in support of the revolution after his Syrian wife’s parents fled their home in Damascus and began living with him in Stratford. His album, Blood Like Fire (Songs for Syria), has turned Connor into something of a celebrity in the war-torn country. Local television stations broadcast his music videos and his face has even appeared on stamps for the revolution. The expedition this summer with Karam marked his first trip back to the region since the fighting broke out.

“One of the things I was really struck by was that here I was in Turkey, but I felt like I was in Syria,” says Connor. “The feeling of the air, the feeling of the climate, the food was being cooked by Syrian vendors….It was like I was back in touch with this place I had been writing about for the last few years.”

Connor’s dinner hosts in Reyhanli were one of the more fortunate Syrian families he met during his week-long stay on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, however. The father is a soldier with the Free Syrian Army and is able to send enough money across the border each month for his wife and children to rent their small flat. But those who are lucky enough to make it out of the squalid refugee camps and over the Syrian-Turkish border are often forced to live in makeshift tents or under the shield of blasted rubble, wherever crevices of space still exist.

“Some of the kids, most of them, have lost one or both parents,” says Connor. “They’re living in terrible, terrible conditions.”

So Connor, along with a diverse group of photographers, basketball coaches, boxing instructors, architects and authors hailing from countries across the globe, set out to give the boys and girls of Al Salam School a semblance of a normal life despite the surrounding destruction.

“Music wasn’t the point,” he explains. “The point was that all of us came from different parts of the world because we care about them. And that’s powerful. It made them feel loved and gave them a smile. It gave them hope that they’re not forgotten.”

On the first day at Al Salam it became apparent that the classrooms were too cramped to fit Connor, his guitar, and 20-30 eager children, so the group made their way to the school’s roof. Connor taught the basics of music, encouraging them to sing along with him and keep the beat using egg shakers and rhythm sticks. The experience was equally transformative for Connor, who plans to tour U.S. colleges this fall raising awareness for Syria through the narrative of his own personal journey. “Working with these kids, seeing their smiles, engaging, being in this other part of the world. It was something I can’t even explain.”

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June 2017

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Telephone: 914-937-2047
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Cost: Free

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40 Beech Street
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Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
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Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
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Cost: Free

Where:
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720 Pequot Avenue
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
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For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
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40 Beech Street
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Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
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Mill Hill Historic Park
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Lecture will be in old Norwalk Town House on site
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Sponsor: Norwalk Historical Society
Telephone: 203-846-0525
Contact Name: Samantha Kulish
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Cost: free

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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
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Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

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1 Museum Drive
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
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720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Pinkney Park
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Cost: Single Tickets: $25, $20 seniors, $10 children/students.

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Quick Center for the Arts
200 Barlow Road
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500 Algonquin Road
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Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Contact Name: Krista McCormack
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Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
Website »

More information

Soar over the world’s tallest buildings, race in a solar-powered car and scale epic bridges – while also celebrating the inspired work behind them all – in “Dream Big:...

Cost: $22.95 adults; $20.95 youths (13-17) & seniors (65+); and $15.95 for children 3-

Where:
Maritime Aquarium
10 North Water Street
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View map »


Website »

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“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Pinkney Park
177 Rowayton Ave
Norwalk, CT  06853
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Clay Art Center is pleased to present: Two Concurrent Solo Exhibitions Opening Reception: Saturday, June 10th, 6 - 8pm Stories of My Histories, By Natalia Arbalaez 2016-17...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free, but registration is appreciated

Where:
Fairfield University Dolan Shool of Business
1073 N Benson Road
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View map »


Telephone: 1.866.225.0348 ext. 702
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Westport Library
20 Jesup Road
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Website »

More information

Soar over the world’s tallest buildings, race in a solar-powered car and scale epic bridges – while also celebrating the inspired work behind them all – in “Dream Big:...

Cost: $22.95 adults; $20.95 youths (13-17) & seniors (65+); and $15.95 for children 3-

Where:
Maritime Aquarium
10 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Pinkney Park
177 Rowayton Ave
Norwalk, CT  06853
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Clay Art Center is pleased to present: Two Concurrent Solo Exhibitions Opening Reception: Saturday, June 10th, 6 - 8pm Stories of My Histories, By Natalia Arbalaez 2016-17...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
Website »

More information

Soar over the world’s tallest buildings, race in a solar-powered car and scale epic bridges – while also celebrating the inspired work behind them all – in “Dream Big:...

Cost: $22.95 adults; $20.95 youths (13-17) & seniors (65+); and $15.95 for children 3-

Where:
Maritime Aquarium
10 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Pinkney Park
177 Rowayton Ave
Norwalk, CT  06853
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Clay Art Center is pleased to present: Two Concurrent Solo Exhibitions Opening Reception: Saturday, June 10th, 6 - 8pm Stories of My Histories, By Natalia Arbalaez 2016-17...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Adam Chau
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

This year Rowayton’s Shakespeare on the Sound (June 15 - July 2) will perform Macbeth in Pinkney Park.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Pinkney Park
177 Rowayton Ave
Norwalk, CT  06853
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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