The Pianist Of Yarmouk

Episodes

EpisodeFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0120190325

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus by defying the Syrian regime with his music.

Newly married with a young baby, living in a comfortable Damascus suburb and working as a music teacher, Aeham’s life is turned upside down by the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

When they are bombed out of their apartment, Aeham and his family take refuge in their music shop in the ramshackle district of Yarmouk. But soon the rebel Free Syrian Army takes control of Yarmouk and President Assad’s forces are determined to bomb, shoot and starve them out, regardless of the plight of the ordinary residents.

"Overnight, the checkpoints were closed. No one got out. Nothing got in. No rice, no oil, no milk powder, no sugar. The siege began. The electricity was turned off. Food prices exploded. Soon, people started dying of hunger. Every day, we could hear artillery fire and rifle salvos. Yarmouk was descending into darkness and silence.

"Without electricity, we had to improvise. I put baby Ahmad’s dirty nappies in a large metal tub, put on some rubber boots and waded around in the water. When we ran out of washing up liquid, we began cleaning our plates with ash. We had hardly any soap, so we washed our hands only once a day. We almost never had milk, so we gave the baby water with sugar. There was no more tobacco, so I used dried mint to make cigarettes for my father."

Over five episodes, Aeham tells how he fought to keep his family alive and how, in his anger and frustration, he eventually pushed his piano onto the streets and brought music to the desperate people of Yarmouk.

But when ISIS take over he has to make the agonising choice between staying in Syria and waiting to be killed or making the perilous journey to Europe alone and abandoning his family.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

012019032520190326 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus by defying the Syrian regime with his music.

Newly married with a young baby, living in a comfortable Damascus suburb and working as a music teacher, Aeham’s life is turned upside down by the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

When they are bombed out of their apartment, Aeham and his family take refuge in their music shop in the ramshackle district of Yarmouk. But soon the rebel Free Syrian Army takes control of Yarmouk and President Assad’s forces are determined to bomb, shoot and starve them out, regardless of the plight of the ordinary residents.

"Overnight, the checkpoints were closed. No one got out. Nothing got in. No rice, no oil, no milk powder, no sugar. The siege began. The electricity was turned off. Food prices exploded. Soon, people started dying of hunger. Every day, we could hear artillery fire and rifle salvos. Yarmouk was descending into darkness and silence.

"Without electricity, we had to improvise. I put baby Ahmad’s dirty nappies in a large metal tub, put on some rubber boots and waded around in the water. When we ran out of washing up liquid, we began cleaning our plates with ash. We had hardly any soap, so we washed our hands only once a day. We almost never had milk, so we gave the baby water with sugar. There was no more tobacco, so I used dried mint to make cigarettes for my father."

Over five episodes, Aeham tells how he fought to keep his family alive and how, in his anger and frustration, he eventually pushed his piano onto the streets and brought music to the desperate people of Yarmouk.

But when ISIS take over he has to make the agonising choice between staying in Syria and waiting to be killed or making the perilous journey to Europe alone and abandoning his family.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0120190325

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus by defying the Syrian regime with his music.

Newly married with a young baby, living in a comfortable Damascus suburb and working as a music teacher, Aeham’s life is turned upside down by the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

When they are bombed out of their apartment, Aeham and his family take refuge in their music shop in the ramshackle district of Yarmouk. But soon the rebel Free Syrian Army takes control of Yarmouk and President Assad’s forces are determined to bomb, shoot and starve them out, regardless of the plight of the ordinary residents.

"Overnight, the checkpoints were closed. No one got out. Nothing got in. No rice, no oil, no milk powder, no sugar. The siege began. The electricity was turned off. Food prices exploded. Soon, people started dying of hunger. Every day, we could hear artillery fire and rifle salvos. Yarmouk was descending into darkness and silence.

"Without electricity, we had to improvise. I put baby Ahmad’s dirty nappies in a large metal tub, put on some rubber boots and waded around in the water. When we ran out of washing up liquid, we began cleaning our plates with ash. We had hardly any soap, so we washed our hands only once a day. We almost never had milk, so we gave the baby water with sugar. There was no more tobacco, so I used dried mint to make cigarettes for my father."

Over five episodes, Aeham tells how he fought to keep his family alive and how, in his anger and frustration, he eventually pushed his piano onto the streets and brought music to the desperate people of Yarmouk.

But when ISIS take over he has to make the agonising choice between staying in Syria and waiting to be killed or making the perilous journey to Europe alone and abandoning his family.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

012019032520190326 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus by defying the Syrian regime with his music.

Newly married with a young baby, living in a comfortable Damascus suburb and working as a music teacher, Aeham’s life is turned upside down by the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

When they are bombed out of their apartment, Aeham and his family take refuge in their music shop in the ramshackle district of Yarmouk. But soon the rebel Free Syrian Army takes control of Yarmouk and President Assad’s forces are determined to bomb, shoot and starve them out, regardless of the plight of the ordinary residents.

"Overnight, the checkpoints were closed. No one got out. Nothing got in. No rice, no oil, no milk powder, no sugar. The siege began. The electricity was turned off. Food prices exploded. Soon, people started dying of hunger. Every day, we could hear artillery fire and rifle salvos. Yarmouk was descending into darkness and silence.

"Without electricity, we had to improvise. I put baby Ahmad’s dirty nappies in a large metal tub, put on some rubber boots and waded around in the water. When we ran out of washing up liquid, we began cleaning our plates with ash. We had hardly any soap, so we washed our hands only once a day. We almost never had milk, so we gave the baby water with sugar. There was no more tobacco, so I used dried mint to make cigarettes for my father."

Over five episodes, Aeham tells how he fought to keep his family alive and how, in his anger and frustration, he eventually pushed his piano onto the streets and brought music to the desperate people of Yarmouk.

But when ISIS take over he has to make the agonising choice between staying in Syria and waiting to be killed or making the perilous journey to Europe alone and abandoning his family.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0220190326

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s the summer of 2013 and the armies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have cut the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk off from the world in an attempt to starve out the rebel Free Syrian Army. Aehem, formerly a prosperous music teacher, is trapped there with his family and is selling falafal made from pigeon food to keep them alive.

"Being hungry makes you moody. The starving people of Yarmouk shuffled morosely through the deserted, bombed out streets, or huddled around campfires, burning clothes and plastic bottles. No matter where you went, you could never escape the terrible stench of burning plastic bottles.

"People were aging in fast-motion. Before the siege, my mother had still seemed young, but now she was grey and haggard, her face lined with deep wrinkles. She had lost a lot of weight — 'And all without a diet or gym,' she said sarcastically. From time to time I would weigh myself. Before, I had weighed over ten stone, now I wasn’t much more than seven. I could see my ribcage under my skin."

But in the midst of starvation and misery, Aeham pushes his piano into the ruined streets and starts a choir to lift the spirits of the residents of Yarmouk. A friend videos his protest songs and soon Aeham is getting tens of thousands of hits on the internet. But he’s taking a huge risk.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

022019032620190327 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s the summer of 2013 and the armies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have cut the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk off from the world in an attempt to starve out the rebel Free Syrian Army. Aehem, formerly a prosperous music teacher, is trapped there with his family and is selling falafal made from pigeon food to keep them alive.

"Being hungry makes you moody. The starving people of Yarmouk shuffled morosely through the deserted, bombed out streets, or huddled around campfires, burning clothes and plastic bottles. No matter where you went, you could never escape the terrible stench of burning plastic bottles.

"People were aging in fast-motion. Before the siege, my mother had still seemed young, but now she was grey and haggard, her face lined with deep wrinkles. She had lost a lot of weight — 'And all without a diet or gym,' she said sarcastically. From time to time I would weigh myself. Before, I had weighed over ten stone, now I wasn’t much more than seven. I could see my ribcage under my skin."

But in the midst of starvation and misery, Aeham pushes his piano into the ruined streets and starts a choir to lift the spirits of the residents of Yarmouk. A friend videos his protest songs and soon Aeham is getting tens of thousands of hits on the internet. But he’s taking a huge risk.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0320190327

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s early 2014, seven months into President Assad’s siege of the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. Starving and desperate in the ruins and rubble, Aeham has started a children’s choir and dragged his piano into the street. But the joy his music brings to the residents of Yarmouk is about to be shattered by a sniper’s bullet.

And news that in normal times would be a cause for celebration, adds another layer of anxiety to Aeham’s life:

"One day, Tahani had to sit down suddenly. She was feeling dizzy. She told me she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was pregnant. She went to see a midwife, who confirmed it. Tahani was overjoyed. And I was, too. But my doubts grew. We were starving. How could a baby grow on our diet of lentils, boiled clover and the odd glass of powdered milk?"

Aeham and Tahani’s first child had been born by Caesarian Section and they knew this baby would have to be delivered the same way.

"With each passing day, one particular question became ever more pressing: Where could she go for her delivery? We asked at the makeshift field hospital in al-Hajar al-Aswad. They had no antibiotics or anaesthetic. The regime hadn’t just cut off our food supply, but our medical supply as well."

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

032019032720190328 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s early 2014, seven months into President Assad’s siege of the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. Starving and desperate in the ruins and rubble, Aeham has started a children’s choir and dragged his piano into the street. But the joy his music brings to the residents of Yarmouk is about to be shattered by a sniper’s bullet.

And news that in normal times would be a cause for celebration, adds another layer of anxiety to Aeham’s life:

"One day, Tahani had to sit down suddenly. She was feeling dizzy. She told me she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was pregnant. She went to see a midwife, who confirmed it. Tahani was overjoyed. And I was, too. But my doubts grew. We were starving. How could a baby grow on our diet of lentils, boiled clover and the odd glass of powdered milk?"

Aeham and Tahani’s first child had been born by Caesarian Section and they knew this baby would have to be delivered the same way.

"With each passing day, one particular question became ever more pressing: Where could she go for her delivery? We asked at the makeshift field hospital in al-Hajar al-Aswad. They had no antibiotics or anaesthetic. The regime hadn’t just cut off our food supply, but our medical supply as well."

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0320190327

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s early 2014, seven months into President Assad’s siege of the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. Starving and desperate in the ruins and rubble, Aeham has started a children’s choir and dragged his piano into the street. But the joy his music brings to the residents of Yarmouk is about to be shattered by a sniper’s bullet.

And news that in normal times would be a cause for celebration, adds another layer of anxiety to Aeham’s life:

"One day, Tahani had to sit down suddenly. She was feeling dizzy. She told me she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was pregnant. She went to see a midwife, who confirmed it. Tahani was overjoyed. And I was, too. But my doubts grew. We were starving. How could a baby grow on our diet of lentils, boiled clover and the odd glass of powdered milk?"

Aeham and Tahani’s first child had been born by Caesarian Section and they knew this baby would have to be delivered the same way.

"With each passing day, one particular question became ever more pressing: Where could she go for her delivery? We asked at the makeshift field hospital in al-Hajar al-Aswad. They had no antibiotics or anaesthetic. The regime hadn’t just cut off our food supply, but our medical supply as well."

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

032019032720190328 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life under siege in Damascus, defying the Syrian regime with his music.

It’s early 2014, seven months into President Assad’s siege of the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. Starving and desperate in the ruins and rubble, Aeham has started a children’s choir and dragged his piano into the street. But the joy his music brings to the residents of Yarmouk is about to be shattered by a sniper’s bullet.

And news that in normal times would be a cause for celebration, adds another layer of anxiety to Aeham’s life:

"One day, Tahani had to sit down suddenly. She was feeling dizzy. She told me she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was pregnant. She went to see a midwife, who confirmed it. Tahani was overjoyed. And I was, too. But my doubts grew. We were starving. How could a baby grow on our diet of lentils, boiled clover and the odd glass of powdered milk?"

Aeham and Tahani’s first child had been born by Caesarian Section and they knew this baby would have to be delivered the same way.

"With each passing day, one particular question became ever more pressing: Where could she go for her delivery? We asked at the makeshift field hospital in al-Hajar al-Aswad. They had no antibiotics or anaesthetic. The regime hadn’t just cut off our food supply, but our medical supply as well."

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0420190328

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

It’s November 2014 and the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk has been starved of food and medicine by President Assad’s forces for two years. Then, the worst happens and ISIS fighters take over. Music is forbidden under their severe Islamic code and Aeham’s attempt to smuggle his beloved piano out of Yarmouk goes badly wrong:

"Suddenly it all happened very fast. The ISIS guys went into a nearby shed and came back with two plastic bottles. They were filled with a brown liquid. I slowly backed away from the checkpoint. The men started pouring the liquid over our pushcart. Then, one of the men flicked open his lighter. I saw a flame shooting out. I turned and ran."

"Very quickly the news about ISIS burning my piano had gone around the world. Eyewitnesses had posted about it on Facebook. Media across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, reported it. Even CNN aired a segment about it. If these ISIS guys saw any of this, they’d kill me."

Aeham has no choice – he has to escape from Yarmouk and get out of Syria. But should he risk the lives of his wife and two small children by taking them with him?

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

042019032820190329 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

It’s November 2014 and the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk has been starved of food and medicine by President Assad’s forces for two years. Then, the worst happens and ISIS fighters take over. Music is forbidden under their severe Islamic code and Aeham’s attempt to smuggle his beloved piano out of Yarmouk goes badly wrong:

"Suddenly it all happened very fast. The ISIS guys went into a nearby shed and came back with two plastic bottles. They were filled with a brown liquid. I slowly backed away from the checkpoint. The men started pouring the liquid over our pushcart. Then, one of the men flicked open his lighter. I saw a flame shooting out. I turned and ran."

"Very quickly the news about ISIS burning my piano had gone around the world. Eyewitnesses had posted about it on Facebook. Media across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, reported it. Even CNN aired a segment about it. If these ISIS guys saw any of this, they’d kill me."

Aeham has no choice – he has to escape from Yarmouk and get out of Syria. But should he risk the lives of his wife and two small children by taking them with him?

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0420190328

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

It’s November 2014 and the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk has been starved of food and medicine by President Assad’s forces for two years. Then, the worst happens and ISIS fighters take over. Music is forbidden under their severe Islamic code and Aeham’s attempt to smuggle his beloved piano out of Yarmouk goes badly wrong:

"Suddenly it all happened very fast. The ISIS guys went into a nearby shed and came back with two plastic bottles. They were filled with a brown liquid. I slowly backed away from the checkpoint. The men started pouring the liquid over our pushcart. Then, one of the men flicked open his lighter. I saw a flame shooting out. I turned and ran."

"Very quickly the news about ISIS burning my piano had gone around the world. Eyewitnesses had posted about it on Facebook. Media across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, reported it. Even CNN aired a segment about it. If these ISIS guys saw any of this, they’d kill me."

Aeham has no choice – he has to escape from Yarmouk and get out of Syria. But should he risk the lives of his wife and two small children by taking them with him?

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

042019032820190329 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

It’s November 2014 and the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk has been starved of food and medicine by President Assad’s forces for two years. Then, the worst happens and ISIS fighters take over. Music is forbidden under their severe Islamic code and Aeham’s attempt to smuggle his beloved piano out of Yarmouk goes badly wrong:

"Suddenly it all happened very fast. The ISIS guys went into a nearby shed and came back with two plastic bottles. They were filled with a brown liquid. I slowly backed away from the checkpoint. The men started pouring the liquid over our pushcart. Then, one of the men flicked open his lighter. I saw a flame shooting out. I turned and ran."

"Very quickly the news about ISIS burning my piano had gone around the world. Eyewitnesses had posted about it on Facebook. Media across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, reported it. Even CNN aired a segment about it. If these ISIS guys saw any of this, they’d kill me."

Aeham has no choice – he has to escape from Yarmouk and get out of Syria. But should he risk the lives of his wife and two small children by taking them with him?

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0520190329

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

After being caught by President Assad’s forces trying to flee Syria with his wife and two small children, Aeham and his family have miraculously been freed from prison. But then he has to make an agonising choice:

"It was heartbreaking, but my decision was made: I had to leave Syria, I was too well known to the authorities to survive if I stayed. But I couldn’t take my wife and kids on such a hellish journey. If I made it to Europe in one piece, I’d do everything in my power to have them join me. But if something happened to me – well, at least my family would live."

In his desperation, Aeham employs a people smuggler to get him out of Syria and across the border into Turkey.

"Suddenly, we see a group of maybe 20 people dashing out of the woods and breaking into a sprint. Four men are carrying an old woman on a stretcher. The soldiers notice them and start yelling at them to stop. They get stuck in the ditch. It’s impossible to keep going, not with the old lady. The soldiers open fire. Two men are shot in the leg. We start running as well. And in all the turmoil, we manage to get across the border."

But that’s not the most dangerous part of his journey – he still has to face the crossing from Izmir to Lesbos in a flimsy, overcrowded dinghy.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

052019032920190330 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

After being caught by President Assad’s forces trying to flee Syria with his wife and two small children, Aeham and his family have miraculously been freed from prison. But then he has to make an agonising choice:

"It was heartbreaking, but my decision was made: I had to leave Syria, I was too well known to the authorities to survive if I stayed. But I couldn’t take my wife and kids on such a hellish journey. If I made it to Europe in one piece, I’d do everything in my power to have them join me. But if something happened to me – well, at least my family would live."

In his desperation, Aeham employs a people smuggler to get him out of Syria and across the border into Turkey.

"Suddenly, we see a group of maybe 20 people dashing out of the woods and breaking into a sprint. Four men are carrying an old woman on a stretcher. The soldiers notice them and start yelling at them to stop. They get stuck in the ditch. It’s impossible to keep going, not with the old lady. The soldiers open fire. Two men are shot in the leg. We start running as well. And in all the turmoil, we manage to get across the border."

But that’s not the most dangerous part of his journey – he still has to face the crossing from Izmir to Lesbos in a flimsy, overcrowded dinghy.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad\u2019s dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

0520190329

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

After being caught by President Assad’s forces trying to flee Syria with his wife and two small children, Aeham and his family have miraculously been freed from prison. But then he has to make an agonising choice:

"It was heartbreaking, but my decision was made: I had to leave Syria, I was too well known to the authorities to survive if I stayed. But I couldn’t take my wife and kids on such a hellish journey. If I made it to Europe in one piece, I’d do everything in my power to have them join me. But if something happened to me – well, at least my family would live."

In his desperation, Aeham employs a people smuggler to get him out of Syria and across the border into Turkey.

"Suddenly, we see a group of maybe 20 people dashing out of the woods and breaking into a sprint. Four men are carrying an old woman on a stretcher. The soldiers notice them and start yelling at them to stop. They get stuck in the ditch. It’s impossible to keep going, not with the old lady. The soldiers open fire. Two men are shot in the leg. We start running as well. And in all the turmoil, we manage to get across the border."

But that’s not the most dangerous part of his journey – he still has to face the crossing from Izmir to Lesbos in a flimsy, overcrowded dinghy.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres

052019032920190330 (R4)

Ammar Haj Ahmad reads Aeham Ahmad’s dramatic account of how he risked his life playing music under siege in Damascus.

After being caught by President Assad’s forces trying to flee Syria with his wife and two small children, Aeham and his family have miraculously been freed from prison. But then he has to make an agonising choice:

"It was heartbreaking, but my decision was made: I had to leave Syria, I was too well known to the authorities to survive if I stayed. But I couldn’t take my wife and kids on such a hellish journey. If I made it to Europe in one piece, I’d do everything in my power to have them join me. But if something happened to me – well, at least my family would live."

In his desperation, Aeham employs a people smuggler to get him out of Syria and across the border into Turkey.

"Suddenly, we see a group of maybe 20 people dashing out of the woods and breaking into a sprint. Four men are carrying an old woman on a stretcher. The soldiers notice them and start yelling at them to stop. They get stuck in the ditch. It’s impossible to keep going, not with the old lady. The soldiers open fire. Two men are shot in the leg. We start running as well. And in all the turmoil, we manage to get across the border."

But that’s not the most dangerous part of his journey – he still has to face the crossing from Izmir to Lesbos in a flimsy, overcrowded dinghy.

The Pianist of Yarmouk is read by Ammar Haj Ahmad, who trained as an actor before fleeing the conflict in Syria. He recently starred in the critically acclaimed play The Jungle, set in the notorious Calais refugee camp, in London and New York.

Written by Aeham Ahmad
Read by Ammar Haj Ahmad
Abridged and produced by Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Aeham Ahmad's dramatic story of how he defied the war in Syria with his music.

Serialised book readings, featuring works from various genres