US WAS ALSO A REFUGEE CONCERT The concert was the brainchild of U.S. conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, who gathered together the Refugee Orchestra Project after witnessing firsthand Germany's response to the crisis last summer.
6/22/2016 2:39:00 AM - AFP

Performing Puccini to a rapt New York audience, her soprano voice soaring to the rafters, Lubana al-Quntar may be the last person most Americans would think to be a Syrian refugee. But half-an-hour's drive from Donald Trump's campaign headquarters, she and dozens of other classically trained refugees gave a special concert at the close of World Refugee Day to highlight the cultural contributions made by those who have fled war and persecution abroad.
Just days after the billionaire presidential candidate repeated his call to stop Syrian refugees entering America, Quntar had the audience spellbound even if many of the church pews were empty.
She sang the aria "Sola, perduta, abbandonata" from the opera "Manon Lescaut," accompanied by an orchestra of refugee American musicians, followed by a haunting Syrian song called "Ya Ghazali."
"This time I feel every word that I sing - abandoned and alone. It's so incredible," she said before the concert in a Brooklyn church held to raise money and awareness for refugee causes.
Quntar has been in the United States for five years after leaving Syria five months into its conflict. She lives in Washington D.C, where she would return by a grueling five-hour bus journey after the concert.
Even for a professional musician who studied in Europe and performed abroad before the war, it has been tough adapting to a new life.
The United Nations said Monday that the number of people fleeing their homes has spiked to 65 million in the worst refugee crisis since World War II, led by Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians.
Nevertheless, America is in the throes of a toxic debate about immigration in general and Syrian refugees in particular, with Trump and other Republicans calling for immigration to be halted from countries with links to terror attacks targeting the United States or its allies.
The United States has accepted just over 6,300 Syrian refugees since 2011, far fewer than Europe. Germany opened its doors to 1.1 million asylum seekers last year.

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    Oscar Medya