Syrian violinist performs Beethoven this weekend with Fortismere Community Symphony Orchestra

Syrian violinist performs Beethoven in Muswell Hill

Rising star Bilal Alnemr visits North London this November

Bilal Alnemr, who was born in Damascus, Syria, is flying from Berlin to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at St Andrew’s Church in Muswell Hill on 18th November with the Fortismere Community Symphony Orchestra.

He discovered the violin thanks to a small toy violin his father gave him when he was born, and continued to learn with only the help of a DVD. From an early age, he travelled extensively, visiting India when he was ten, then Qatar, Russia, Greece and eventually France where he graduated from the Paris Conservatoire. 

Bilal has a profound connection with the violin, so much so that he feels unwell if he cannot play every day: “Every time I pick up the violin, I feel at home wherever I am. The sound of the violin is extremely important to me. Since my childhood, it was the only thing I had to play with, so without it I feel lost.”

Since 2018, Bilal has been based at the Barenboïm-Saïd Academy in Berlin and has performed alongside Daniel Barenboim on many occasions. He still plays in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra that was founded by Barenboim and Edward Said and is composed of musicians from Israel, Palestine and other Arab countries.

Bilal explains, “I am proud to be part of the Divan Orchestra, which was founded to show how people who listen to each other, both musically and in other ways, can achieve wonderful things. We want people to see that there can be peace and collaboration, that there are other ways of addressing conflict, not only through violence and military action.”

So what is Bilal’s connection with an amateur – yet ambitious – community orchestra in Muswell Hill? That is all down to the Musical Director, Thomas Gregory: “I first encountered Bilal in 2008 in Damascus, and then again in 2009, when I was teaching with the Syrian Children’s Orchestra. He was only 12 or 13 at the time, yet I was struck by his prodigious talent and deep connection with the violin. We have tried repeatedly to get him over for a concert but travel restrictions always scuppered our plans. It is only now that Bilal has French citizenship that we can finally go ahead.”


More information:

Fortismere Music Centre is based at Fortismere School and provides music-making opportunities for students, parents, staff and the wider community. The Fortismere Community Symphony Orchestra is an ambitious, amateur orchestra that performs large-scale works three times a year at St Andrew’s Church, N10.

Bilal will be playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Fortismere Community Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Gregory, on Saturday 18th November 2023 at St Andrew’s Church, Alexandra Park Road, N10 2DD. Tickets available on the door or in advance from 

Concert programme:

Haydn: Overture to The Creation

Beethoven: Violin Concerto

Schumann: Symphony No.4