Young Baghdad musicians find escape in Iraqi National Symphony

Posted on: September 12, 2011

In Saturday’s (9/10) Christian Science Monitor, Jane Arraf writes, “Fatima Odei’s love affair with the violin started in the dark days of the war when, only six years old and sequestered at home, she began watching symphony orchestras on TV. ‘I saw a Japanese girl playing violin and I really liked her,’ says Fatima, now 12 and one of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra’s youngest trainees. … Fatima and her fellow musicians aren’t the only young Iraqis performing classical music. There is the more established National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, but it performs only in the calmer northern region of Kurdistan and outside Iraq. In contrast, the young INSO members’ unlikely musical careers have been forged amid the heat of war in Baghdad, bringing a sweet escape from the daily challenges of a city hardened first by conflict and then the chaos of reconstruction. For some of the students who walked past bodies in the street on the way to school, knowing they had music made them feel they had something to hang onto.” The orchestra is “aimed not just at producing new recruits but also giving students a shared love of music that will help bridge religious and sectarian divides.”

Posted September 12, 2011