Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Those Were Our Days

It has been so long since I attended a symphony orchestra concert. I’m not sure if it was late 2004 or early 2005 in Amman by the Jordanian symphony orchestra, which was Noor al Hussain Institute orchestra. Yesterday we were invited to a concert by the Emirates Youth Symphony orchestra at the Cultural & Scientific Association Auditorium (CSAA). At the same place, Dubai International Exhibition of the Arabic Calligraphy Art was held (21-30 February 2008/ the 5th session). My mentor recommended me to see the exhibition so I seized the opportunity and went with my dad and his friend, a well know Iraqi art critic.

The exhibition was great. Calligraphers from the Arab and Islam world were there but what made me proud, there was a showroom only for Iraqi calligraphy artists. There were so many exquisite works. I’m looking at the catalogue to mention a couple of names but it’s too hard, there’re many worth mentioning. But I have to say I saw a remarkable, modern red work by Mohammed alNoori, my mentor’s friend. It is simple but very catchy.

Another great Iraqi calligrapher is Wissam Shawkat who designed the calligraphy (mashq) in the “Jali Thuluth Atyle” on the front of the (CSAA) and he did a great job on that. I was surprised to know he’s only in his early 30s.
After the the Calligraphy exhibition we went to the concert hall. It was still early, therefore, we went to see Jana Kudsiova’s exhibition at the same building. She’s an artist from the Czech Republic, who moved to UAE in 1986 and is involved in many charitable activities. And currently she’s the Art Coordinator of Emirates Youth Symphony orchestra and the organiser of the Art exhibition. She’s created beautiful art pieces with wooden, back body of violins, on canvas.

When I saw the children with kind of UAE traditional uniform, the joy on their faces and their tiny violins in their hands, they reminded me of myself when I was their age. The first singing participation, I was only 3nd grad student. And my first orchestra participation I was 5th grader. It was only early 1990s and the country was going under dire circumstances but yet we were able to held concerts and do our best but more important we were able to enjoy it.

They played many Pieces but I enjoyed some better because I played those pieces when I was a member of Music and Ballet Symphony orchestra. They are: Radetzky March by J. Strauss, Hungarian Dance No 5 by J. Brahms, Sabres Dance by A. Khachaturian. While they were playing my fingers in my left hand kept dancing the tune and my right hand was moving the bow. I had tears in my eyes, missing those days when it was easy to enjoy music. Now the school, Music and Ballet, in Baghdad is suffering not only the lack of students and teachers but also the savagery of extremists who threatened both teachers and students. Many times the school was attacked in the name of Islam and that it represents evil by music and ballet. They burnt parts of it and destroyed the instruments’ store. I’m not sure what’s going on right now but I don’t believe its situation got better.

Many artists, musicians and ballet dancers graduated from this school, which was founded 1968. Most of the students are now playing and teaching music all over the world, to name a few:
Mohammed Othman: Pianist, composer, the conductor of the Jordanian Symphony orchestra
Abdullah Hassan: Violinist, composer who won many awards
Sultan al Khatib: Pianist & the Director of Research and Development at EVCTV
Kareem Kan’an Wasfi: Cellist

Let’s hope that we’ll witness the day when the school will be vibrant again and to provide Iraq with excellent artists and spread the joy by the sound of the music and bringing back the nights when we enjoyed the Nutcracker and the swan lake ballet.

PS: I wrote this post three days back but I didn’t post it. My colleague's father died and I just didn’t feel to post this. She is our youngest colleague at the institute, only 14 years old. They buried him in Sulaimania/ Iraq and came two days ago.May he rest in peace.

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Blogger David said...

I enjoy symphony music too. Last year, I went to hear the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They are really quite good. It sounds like you really enjoyed watching the children and remembering your early years as a musician. So, I am glad you were able to attend the concert. :) Sometimes I wonder if I would have benefited from learning an instrument that could be played in an orchestra. It must feel really good to be a part of making beautiful music with a group of people. I'm not sure why, but I chose to learn classical guitar, which was a very solitary experience.

I think that calligraphy is an interesting art form. I have seen some works of Japanese calligraphy that I appreciated. For the Japanese though, I think that calligraphy is more about having a perfect technique than about pure artistic expression. I have seen various pictures of Arabic calligraphy. The styles are different and, I think, far more artistic. Did you create some calligraphic sculptures for your exhibition?

I am so sorry to hear that the Music and Ballet school in Baghdad has been attacked by extremists. It is hard for me to imagine that there are people who have no feeling at all for the hopes and dreams of children. This is one more thing in a long list of things that make me ashamed of what America has done to Iraq.

I hope with you Attawie that one day, this school and many others in Iraq will once again teach children to bring beauty in the the world.

My condolences and best wishes to your young friend at the institute and to her family.

2/21/2008 8:16 AM  

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