Aug 31 2012
By Siba Aldabbagh
Azzaman, August 31, 2012
Already hailed as ‘the world’s bravest orchestra’ by Sky News Scotland’s correspondent Jane Chilton, a group of young Iraqi musicians from across Iraq’s religious and ethnic spectrum joined hands on Tuesday night to perform the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq’s (NYOI) London debut at the South Bank Centre with lead cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.
The young mostly self-taught musicians, aged between 14 and 29 year olds auditioned via YouTube where Scottish Conductor Paul MacAlindin, acting also as the NYOI’s Music Director, meticulously selected the most talented of the candidates.
Founded in 2008 by Zuhal Sultan when she was 17 year old, funding was secured from both the Kurdish and Baghdad governments, Crescent Petroleum, as well as the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain.
Sultan has been actively promoting the power of music to facilitate the reconciliation of Iraq’s various communities through initiatives led by UNICEF and UNESCO.
In 2009 Zuhal courageously gave a keynote lecture at FairSay’s eCampaigning forum at Oxford University. All these efforts culminated in Tuesday evening’s fabulous performance.
A symbol of resilience, the NYOI has come to be a beacon of religious and ethnic tolerance.
Using music to bring people from diverse backgrounds together, a political statement is beautifully sung.
Through working as a team, through using the power of music, the young musicians are resisting the chaos and bloodshed destroying the social fabric of Iraq, promoting instead an inspiring vision of tolerance.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ ‘A Reel of Spindrift’ was the performance’s overture, followed by Osama Abdulrasol’s Habibu, Kurdish composer Karzan Mahmood’s ‘For Dilan’, a piece commissioned for his son and Khyam Allami’s mystically lucid and poetically abstract piece from his album ‘Resonance/ Dissoance’ was much awaited by the patient crowd.
The first half of the show was concluded with Gordon McPherson’s ‘Blood Dance’ with Khyam Allami which is a stark reminder of the role the west have played in disorienting the social cohesion of the Middle East.
After an interval, the very excited audience returned to Faure’s ‘Élégie’ and Schubert’s 4th ‘Tragic’ Symphony.
The audience was spoiled with a last performance whilst MacAlindin proudly leaned against the wall, earning a deafening applause from the cheering crowd.
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