The Refugee Youth Program supports 165 youth enrolled in Elizabeth and Roselle Public Schools. Students in grades K through 12 come from over 15 countries and have relocated to the United States in search of safety from violence and oppression in their home countries.  The obstacles this population faces – linguistic, academic, social, emotional, and economic – are complex. Up to 40% of the IRC’s newly-arrived participants have had their schooling interrupted for months or even years as a result of their family’s displacement. A positive transition to school, social, and family life and ongoing support are essential for newly-arrived children and youth in the wake of crisis to continue on the path to high school graduation, post-secondary education, and engaged citizenship. In August 2017, 70 students will participate in IRC’s second New Jersey Refugee Youth Summer Academy at Kean University’s Human Rights Institute. Though English language enrichment and recreation activities, students thrive in a supportive and healing learning environment.
The International Rescue Committee of NY/NJ, St Urban Concerts, and renown Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh are pleased to announce a partnership to support the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey. This summer program provides a supportive and healing environment that helps refugee children overcome the trauma of forced migration. Through educational, recreational, and social activities, students improve their English language skills and their confidence, enabling them to assimilate in their new communities and become engaged citizens. St Urban and Kinan Azmeh will donate 50% of the sales of the album Songs For Days To Come, Vol. 1 to help 70 refugee youth participate in the summer academy. 

Commissioned and recorded by St Urban, Songs For Days To Come is a new musical work by Azmeh, setting the poetry of his friends from Damascus (Hazem al-Azmeh, Mohammad Abou-Laban, Lukman Derky, Liwaa Yazji, and Adnan Odeh). Lenore Davis (director of St Urban) and Azmeh have collaborated musically since 2014. This new project was inspired by Azmeh’s desire to set the poetry of his compatriots-in-exile to music and expanding that sonic experience by including recordings of the poets’ voices. The soundscape melds Arab and western traditions and navigates the personal landscapes of home, faith, and friendship in times seemingly bent on shattering these human birthrights.  It is also a reassuring expression of the freedom found in collaboration and is an apt form of encouragement for the children in the summer academy and for refugees everywhere.

Songs for Days to Come adds another dimension to the chamber music canon and draws listeners through an intimate journey. It is performed by singer Dima Orsho, clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, cellist Kinan Abou-Afach, and pianist Lenore Davis.

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