Four-time ARIA award winner Joseph Tawadros had a simple message for the students of Bossley Park High School: “It is OK to do music”.
London-based Tawadros, who recently launched his latest album The Bluebird, the Mystic and the Fool as part of a national tour, was a special guest at the school on Tuesday as part of the STARTTS’ (NSW Service For Treatment & Rehabilitation Of Torture & Trauma Survivors) Musical Odyssey Project.
Funded by the Crown Resorts Foundation, the project targets young refugees and involves teachers and students from the Conservatorium of Music High School mentoring students from refugee backgrounds in western Sydney.
“The music I play represents the Middle East culture so it is good to get out to kids from those backgrounds to tell them it is OK to do music. Music in these cultures are not encouraged as professions and they are pushed into other areas,” Tawadros said.
“Music is a thing that unites a lot of people. Everyone loves music. The most important thing is acceptance and getting involved as part of a band or trying to navigate yourself through music you form connections and make it easier to connect with other people, especially if you’re from another background or country and finding it hard to find your feet it is always a good reference point.”
Tawadros played his oud – the Middle East guitar – for the students as well as answering questions from the crowd. Students also got the chance to play alongside the leading oud virtuoso and composer who was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2016 for his services to music and composition.
STARTTS' Cultural Development officer Jiva Parthipan said the Musical Odyssey Project has been running successful for a year at Fairvale and Fairfield primary schools and Cabramatta High Schools. Weekly music classes involve singing and musical instruments.
“It’s way of getting kids interesting in after school music projects,” he said.
“Hopefully at Bossley Park we can start an after school music project where kids from outside the area can come too. The goal is to have all the schools come together to perform.”