National Youth Orchestra of Iraq in USA

It's been a brutal few months. Building a team in the USA, and managing my musicians and team in Iraq, whilst sitting in Starbucks in Rudolfplatz, Cologne, Germany, where I live, hammering away on my laptop. Thus is the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq's 2014 Summer Camp and US tour being organised.

We're a pro-bono team involving the NGO of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq in Baghdad, the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Iraq Foundation, the US Embassy in Baghdad, Northern Illinois University and countless others who my partners have brought into the loop to make this extraordinary project happen.

Big-time generosity has been the key, from Illinois, Washington, myself in Cologne and the Iraq team. We're all burning the candle at both ends to fly the orchestra to Chicago at the end of July. Working alongside tutors and musicians from Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra we'll bring together a concert with Iraqi American jazz trumpeter, Amir Elsaffar, Kurdish composer Abdullah Jamal Sagirma, Barber's violin concerto with our wonderful violin tutor, Angelia Cho and Beethoven 7.

But much more than music, we're also bringing together young Iraqi musicians from diverse and divided groups of Iraq to learn about American life and to respond to the deep seated desire to reconcile with the country that invaded them. Only then, can they move forward as musicians, and grow as people.

The visit will involve much intercultural exchange, community outreach, concerts in Elgin, Chicago, Washington DC and Northern Illinois University. We've done this before, of course. In our five year history, we've toured Germany, the UK and France. But the US is special. It will be a time for healing, growth, joy, communion and communication. Relationships and friendships will be built that last a lifetime, and the training that the young musicians get will stay with them as they return home to rebuild an already fractured post-war culture.

As the Music Director, I hope that this year will lead to big break-thoughs, ears opened wide, hearts flooded with new feelings from very ordinary extraordinary people, who just happen to come from Iraq. As for myself, there is only one rule in life. Just keep going. Everything I need to learn is right in front of me along the way.

Check out our Kickstarter:

NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF IRAQ: AMERICAN DEBUT

and our website:

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

Hope to see you in one of our concerts!

Paul MacAlindin

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Comment by Paul MacAlindin on June 5, 2014 at 6:25am

Thanks Hannah! Tickets to our concert in the Lisner Auditorium in DC on the 19th August should be going online soon. I'll keep you posted!

Comment by Hannah Schneider on May 13, 2014 at 11:54am

Congratulations! This is an admirable goal and a daunting logistical project. Best wishes - would love to see you perform in DC.    

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