In 2009, the 17-year-old Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan from Baghdad realized a dream to unite the youth of her country. Her vision involved bringing together young Kurds and Arabs by offering a program of peace through music. Thus, the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq was born.
Every year, the orchestra auditions via YouTube and selects 48 musicians between the ages of 18 and 29, who join together to overcome ethnic, religious, language and gender barriers, forming against all odds this unique and vibrant orchestra.
Although the official end of the war was over five years ago, young Iraqi musicians are still crippled by daily terrorism, ongoing corruption and sectarian fundamentalism. They also lack access to good quality instruments and teaching – and their efforts are even sabotaged by older, established musicians.
However, despite all these hurdles, every year the young musicians go abroad to attend an intensive, three-week summer camp where they receive private and group coaching, perform for local community groups and receive standing ovations in sold-out concerts. Since 2009 these inspiring young people have successfully performed in Iraq, at Beethovenfest in Bonn, Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and this year, the Grand Theatre in Aix-en-Provence. Subsequently they return to Iraq with new hope and skills to rebuild their country’s musical culture creating their own ensembles and passing their newly developed skills onto others.
The orchestra also commissions new music from an Iraqi Kurdish and an Arab composer each year.
In 2014 they dream of attending another intensive summer program with the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, Chicago. Concerts are also planned for Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
The three-week summer course at Elgin will cost $200,000. Further performances will cost $200,000.
We are asking for your support. As the only Iraqi group spreading the message of tolerance, respect and reconciliation to each orchestra member, to Iraq and the wider world, we need your help to continue empowering these creative young peoples’ vision of peace through music.
Contributions may be made to The Friends of The British Council, which holds 501c3 tax-exempt status.
You can send a check to the address below, with a note designating your donation to the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq:
Friends of the British Council
1025 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
With deepest thanks to our donors:
$6,800 RMVD Foundation, The Netherlands
$1,000 Subhi Khudairi, USA
$100 Ambassador Steven E. Steiner, USA
$30 Peter Sinclair, UK
For all sponsorship enquiries please contact Music Director Paul MacAlindin on:
+49 151 237 35 985
For any other enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org