Keene State "Experience" Old and New
for Music Scholars
Keene is a long way from home for violist Nouran Meho and bassist Talia Schwarzwald. The musicians, from Jordan and Israel respectively, are attending Keene State College this year as recipients of Playing for Peace Scholarships. The scholarship, a collaboration between the KSC Department of Music and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, brings young musicians from war-torn countries to Keene State to study and perform.
Nouran, who was a recipient of last year's first Playing for Peace scholarship, is excited to be back at Keene State, where she is completing her undergraduate degree. "Keene is such a good place to play music," she said, "because the setting is so peaceful. I am so busy with classes taking 17 credits, but my playing is the best part of my day, bringing me to an inner quiet zone."
The women spend little time talking about politics, says Talia. "Creating beautiful music together is bigger than the individual self," she explains. "The idea of Playing for Peace is so nice because it brings together two people from war zones to share something we have in common - music." Nouran agrees that religion is something that is not mentioned because it is something "in yourself."
Already close friends, playing music has transcended any differences the two might have had. Despite her friendship with Nouran, adjustment to Keene has been hard for Talia. "Everything here is completely new," she says. "It is hard emotionally, I get very homesick without my family."
The two women recently took time from their busy practicing schedule two weeks ago to participate in Keene's Pumpkin Festival, which was Talia's first experience of seeing more than 20,000 jack-o-lanterns, an experience she described as "amazing." She says she hopes to bring the tradition of carving pumpkins back home to Israel.
For Nouran, the Keene State experience has already been positive and she hopes to visit the College after she graduates next year. She still keeps in touch with her old roommate Sarah Cohen, who also received the scholarship last year.