Ahmed Tofiq

Kalamazoo Kids In Tune

Kalamazoo Kids in Tune will hold its free Gala Finale from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at Chenery Auditorium, featuring the youngest symphony orchestra in the state of Michigan. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Liz Youker, Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, highlights some of the program's accomplishments over the last seven years, paying special attention to the contributions of Eric Barth, known to students as "Dr. Rick," who recently stepped down as artistic director. Ahmed Tofiq, who founded Orchestra Rouh as a program for children from refugee families, says the children he teaches have grown in confidence and ability as they practice and perform.

Both Orchestra Rouh and Kalamazoo Kids In Tune will continue their programs this summer, offering music instruction, group activities, and an all-ages event called Community Day.


Craig Freeman

Violinist Ahmed Tofiq has become, by neccessity, a bridge between Eastern and Western musical traditions, and a bridge between cultures as well. The co-founder of a youth orchestra for children of Syrian refugees, Orchestra Rouh, he speaks Arabic and excels in playing traditional melodies in the styles he learned growing up in Kurdistan. But Tofiq has embraced life in Kalamazoo since moving here to earn his master's degree in music at Western Michigan University in 2014. He knows that music is one way to form connections, and a feeling of home, quickly.

In the Takeda studio, with his violin, Ahmed Tofiq tells his story and plays a few of his favorite maqamat as he speaks with Craig Freeman.