Last year Hersh Anwer arrived in Canada as a refugee from South Kurdistan.
Anwer performs his first piano concert in Canada after arriving as a refugee from South Kurdistan last year.
Hersh will perform both classical music and original Kurdish compositions, featuring compositions by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and more during a performance at the University of Victoria on Monday.
Anwer, 26, came to Canada on his own, without any government, church, or individual sponsorship. This event is a fundraiser to help launch his musical career in Canada. He hopes to be able to continue his musical education, as a composer and pianist, at a Canadian University next year.
It’s the second time he’s been a refugee, Anwer says in his bio.
“As a baby, I was carried by my teen-aged cousin on foot across the border into Iran, where our family had to live as refugees because of Saddam Hussein’s reprisals against the Kurdish people and after six months we were able to return to Iraqi Kurdistan,” he says. “I lost my mother when I was 2.5 years old, and when my father remarried I was raised by my father and stepmother, with the help of my brothers and sisters.”
The classical pianist, composer and songwriter started learning piano in 2008. For eight years he attended the summer performing arts academies organized by the non-profit organization, American Voices, in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Otherwise, I taught myself, studying without a piano teacher at the Institute of Fine Arts in Erbil until my graduation in 2012,” he says.
He spent the next year on an American Voices full one-year scholarship studying in the U.S.
“My plan to return to study in the U.S. to continue with my music training was were interrupted by the ISIS invasion of Mosul and the subsequent collapse of the economy in Iraqi Kurdistan, where I had previously been given assurances of financial support for a scholarship from the local government,” he says.
“In 2016, because of my musical career and my political activism, I was no longer safe in Iraqi Kurdistan. So I chose to take a chance that Canada would be a safe haven and, with help from friends along the way, I made the journey to Victoria in October 2016 without government, church or private sponsorship.”
Monday’s concert will be a celebration as well as a fundraiser.
“It will be a way for me to say thank you to the people of Victoria for their support over the past year — and for people to contribute to my musical training, as I gratefully continue my musical career in British Columbia,” he says.
The Piano Recital with Hersh Anwer is Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (B125- MacLaurin Building) at the University of Victoria.
Tickets are available at eventbrite.ca/e/piano-recital-with-kurdish-refugee-hersh-anwer-tickets-38919678807?aff=eac2