New book chronicles National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, 2009-13

Posted on: August 9, 2016

“How does one create a national youth orchestra in the middle of a war zone?,” writes Ivan Hewett in Monday’s (8/8) Telegraph (U.K.). “It’s a question that still puzzles Scottish conductor Paul MacAlindin…. In Upbeat, his new book about the creation of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq,” MacAlindin writes about establishing “a summer school, with himself conducting, and a programme of intensive tuition by top-flight orchestral players from Europe, all leading to a grand closing concert…. The conductor had one powerful ally … Zuhal Sultan …. a feisty 17-year-old pianist.… The national youth orchestra had been her idea…. For the orchestra’s first summer school in 2009 … auditions were carried out on YouTube, as face-to-face auditions in such a dangerous country were out of the question. The venue for the school was in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah,” and the orchestra made two tours, “first to Germany, then to Britain in 2012…. One player, Bashdar Sidiq, says: ‘I told myself, “Now Bashdar, even if you die, be happy because you have done something in the music world.” Simply, the orchestra changed my life and made my dream come true.’ ”

Posted August 9, 2016