Friday, July 14, 2006

INSO E-Newsletters Episodes 4-6

Monthly Newsletter
March, 2002
Episode 6
Distributed by Al-Wafaa News:
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In this episode:
1. The INSO's Performance in Baghdad by Nahla Jajo
2. Arab World's Symphony Composers by Bassim H. Petros

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1. INSO's Performance in Baghdad
by Nahla Jajo

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO), which included 50 musicians, performed on March 15 and 16 at al-Rasheed Theater. Both performances were sold out and the audience was very enthusiastic and appreciative. David Boin Carly, the young French conductor, who arrived in Baghdad in early March, conducted both performances and plans to return to Iraq in the future for more rehearsals and performances. Carly was born in 1978. He studied conducting under Robert Martinune. In 1998 he conducted the Con Forza Orchestra and became the assistant of Jan Clemann Joulie for the Academy's Orchestra.

The program included:
Grieg ............. (1843 - 1907)

Peer Gynt suite no. 1
*Morning mood
*Ause's death
*Anitra's dance

Haydn............. (1732 - 1809 )

symphony no. 101 (the Clock)

*Menutto Allegro

* Fougi~nakhal (Iraqi folk song)
Bizet.............. (1838 - 1875)

L'Arlesienne (suite no. 2)


2. Arab World's Symphony Composers
Written by Bassim H. Petros

[with feedback and information from Munir Allahwerdi
and Wafaa' Salman]

The compositions of many of the Arab composers were written in orchestral forms and presented by Symphony Orchestras of various Arabic countries like Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. Most of the following pieces were composed in
the forms of suites, themes and variations or as concertos for Arabic authentic instruments like 'Oud, Qanoon, Ney and other instruments:


List of composers includes:

A. Farid Allahwerdi:
1. Al-Mansouria symphonic poem
2. Chamber music works

B. Solhi Al-Wadi:
3. Numerous works composed for Iraqi motion pictures
4. Meditations on a Theme by M. Abdel Wahab Piece # 4 was composed
for and presented by the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra (SNSO)

C. Beatrice Ohanessian:
5. Fantasy on Iraqi Theme
6. Hamurabi Overture
7. Spring Ballade
8. The Dawn
9. Variations on an Armenian Folk Tune

D. Hanna Petros:
10. Rondo Oriental (originally for Piano solo)
11. Melodie Arabe (for Violin and Piano)
12. Works for Wind instruments band.

Numerous works, composed by the following musicians,were written mainly for and presented by the INSO:

Abdalla Jamal, Abdul Amir As-Sarraf, Abdul Razzak Al-Azzawi, Hussein Qaddouri, Mohammed Ameen, Munir Bashir, Munther Jamil Hafeth, Salem Abdul Kareem and Sultan Al-Khatib. Both Munir Bashir and Salem Abdul Kareem, being oud players and composers, did not work with the INSO continuously. Munir Bashir composed "from the Orient to Andalus," to be performed by the INSO. Salim Abdul Kareem composed Oud Concerto (in F minor) which he played it with the INSO in 1993.

Compositions' titles of other composers will be collected and the list will be updated accordingly.


A. Ahmad Ebeid:
13. Symphonic Poem "5 November"

B. Aziz El-Shawan
14. Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, composed in 1959.

C. Mohammed Hasan El-Shogaa'y:
15. Overture Salah El-Din

D. Yousef Greiss:
16. Symphonic poem (Misr "Egypt"):
- La Paysanne
- La Bedouin
- Moonlight.

E. Abu Bakr Khairat:
17. Variations on a Theme by Sayed Darwish (2nd movement of the 3rd Symphony, op. 23, in C major)
18. Suite Folklorique, op. 24, in C major
19. Symphony No. 2 (La Folklorique), op. 21, in G minor
20. Mouwashah (Old anonymous) with Choir.

F. Baheeja Rasheed:
21. Youth Songs "Nagwa"
22. "Dream uninterrupted"

G. Hasan Rasheed:
23. Opera "Anthony's Death" - Poem by Ahmed
Shawqy (Cleopatra)

Additionally, Ahmed El-Saedi, who was the music director and principle conductor of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, had written numerous compositions for symphony and chamber orchestras. He was awarded Egypt's highly acclaimed prize for composition in 1995. Titles of his compositions are unavailable.


A. Muhammed Adel Jeray:
24. Maqam Shehnaz for Lute and Orchestra.

B. Nour Iskander:
25. Concerto for 'Oud and string quartet


Walid Gholmiyya:
26. 'Ash_shaheed' Martyr Symphony
27. 'Al_Qadisiyya Symphony

Walid Gholmiyya's above symphonies among others were commissioned by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Information.


Saleh Al-Mehdi
No specific titles of any of his compositions are available to us. Al-Mehdi is the founder of the National Music Conservatory in Tunis and an Arabic music scholar. In 1975, while hosting the 4th conference of the Arabic Academy of Music in Baghdad, the INSO played one of his compositions. As for Arabic Symphony Orchestras other than those of Iraq and Egypt: The Syrian National Symphony Orchestra founded under the direction of (the Iraqi) Solhi El-Wadi gave series of concerts in the USA, Europe, Egypt and Jordan.

The Jordanian Army Symphony Orchestra was trained in Vienna by a special request from the late King Hussein. It no longer exists as the majority of its members have retired. The Jordanian Symphony Orchestra was founded and conducted by Kifah Fakhouri, Director of the National Music Conservatory in Amman. Since 1994, the Orchestra has been performing under the direction of Mohammed Othman Siddiq (an Iraqi pianist - conductor) Many young Iraqi musicians work and play with this Orchestra.


The INSO Writing/Editing Team:

Munir Allahwerdi, Clarinet Player (INSO) [Austria]
Jason Carter, Guitarist [UK]
Munther J. Hafeth, Composer, Musician (INSO) [IRAQ]
Nahla Jajo, Violinist (INSO) [IRAQ]
Andrew Jones, Violinist, Journalist [South Africa]
Salem A. Kareem, Composer & Oud player [UAE]
Beatrice Ohanessian, Composer, Pianist (INSO) [USA]
Bassim H. Petros, Cellist, Music Critic (INSO) [New Zealand]
Wafaa' Al-Natheema, List Moderator & Concert Tour Organizer [USA]


Monthly Newsletter
February, 2002
Episode 5
Distributed by Al-Wafaa:
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In this episode:

1. The INSO's performance in Baghdad by Nahla Jajo
2. Thoughts from An Artist by Jason Carter
3. Jazz & Blues -- Arab Influences by Wafaa' Al-Natheema
4. Subscribers' Commentary and Questions followed by a reply from Wafaa' Al-Natheema
5. Apology


1. Report on the February INSO's Performance
by Nahla Jajo

I was so proud to see an audience of about 350 attend the INSO Um Al Ma'arik competition on February 20 that al-Rasheed Theater. Members of the Ministry of culture were attending as well. Out of eleven Iraqi composers, three winners' compositions were selected for the performance.

They were:

* Munther J. Hafeth ....... Piece title: Kaseedah Reefiyyah

* Abdul Ameer As-Sarraf ......Piece title: Anwar Al-Kuds

* Hasan A. Elewee ..... Title: Watany

The orchestra was conducted by Abdul Razzak Al-Azzawi and included forty-five musicians.

The next concerts will be on March 15 and 16 and will be conducted by Boane Karli, a French conductor who will arrive in Baghdad on March 1st.


2. Thoughts from An Artist 
by Jason Carter
I have recently seen the effect of how Art can influence, unite, inspire and encourage. Having visited the Middle East twice since November, performing to mixed audiences of Bahrainis, Europeans, Qataris, Saudi Arabians, North Americans and Emirates, I would often look around the hall and catch the eyes of children, mothers, teenagers, fathers and the elderly. Each one of these people receives something different from the music. It is easy and possibly naive to use this as a template for bigger situations in the world, but then I am an optimist.

I am very interested in how art can influence society and politics. Someone once said 'A society is only as good as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists'. I think there is some truth in this. Regardless of who is an artist, perhaps deep inside we are all artistic in some way, but some gifts are more obvious than others.


3. Jazz & Blues -- Arab Influences
by Wafaa' Al-Natheema

The resemblance is close enough to suggest direct influence, especially in view of the importance of the Gold Coast in the North American slave trade. The famous hollers, those rhapsodic forerunners of the early blues, seem to have derived as much from the Savannah as from the coastal style. At the end of the nineteenth century, Jeannette Robinson Murphy gave an account of the black American singing style which leaves no doubt about its Near Eastern character. Beginning with the most solid pieces of evidence, the instruments.

Mesopotamia seems to have been the birthplace of the bow harp, roughly described as a bent stick with a sound-box at one end and several strings strung between this on the other end. Another very early Mesopotamian invention was the lyre. Later on the oud (lute), which made its appearance in the same area. Lute is the conventional designation of the instrument, but in fact it would be more accurate to describe this ancestor of the whole guitar and fiddle family as a primary banjo, with the sound-box and the strings played with a plectrum, tied onto the broomstick-like finger board.

The reed pipe was another Mesopotamian development. A silver pipe from Ur has actually come down to us from about 2500 BCE, its shape is debatable whether it was single or double. The harps, lyres, lutes and pipes of Mesopotamia spread into Egypt, and later into Greece and mainly through the Greek influence to Rome. Via the Roman empire, they then made their way into northern Europe. From Egypt the same instruments spread south and westward into Africa, where some of them survive to this day: the lyre family in East Africa, and the lute, in its original form, in the more northerly parts of West Africa.

Along with the instruments went the Near Eastern singing style. In Africa it can be found in approximately the same areas at the Near Eastern instruments, and there is every indication that it prevailed in medieval Europe as well, at least among the upper classes. No sooner had the Islamic influence reached its height, around 1300 CE, than it began to recede with the first stirrings of the Renaissance. In one way, the Renaissance was itself the outcome of Oriental influences. Europeans, and especially Italians, took Arab science, culture and financial methods, and with them started a train of developments which have gone on to this day.

Writing of the United States, Alan Lomax describes 'Southern backwoods singing' as "mostly unaccompanied, rubato, highly ornamented and solo; the voice oriental, high-pitched and nasal, produced out of a tense body and throat".

A. M. Jones gives much the same description of the Afro-Arab style: "The Islamic tradition can at once be recognized by the very nasal and string quality of voice that is invariably used. But added to the nasal vocalization there is the very frequent use of mordants to embellish the melody notes. "The African style, too, was taken across the Atlantic. Late nineteenth century commentators remarked on it.


4. Subscribers' Commentary and Questions followed by a reply from
Wafaa' Al-Natheema

*** "Dear Wafaa':
Thank you and the writing/editing team for all the work you've been doing. It is great that we are learning about the tour update and the INSO performances. Please keep the articles from the perspective of the musician's personal account coming like the first article by Allahwerdi and the one by Andrew Jones as well as the history of the INSO as you've been doing in the previous emails. The "history of musical documentation" provided an interesting information. I am looking forward to reading about Middle Eastern composers who composed symphonies and women musicians who were/are part of the INSO. I enjoyed reading about Paul Anka. I bet very few know that he is an Arab-American. I think it should be made public especially at this anti-Arab-bashing time.
Keep up the great work,
Richard Sullivan"

*** "Thank you, Wafaa', the sponsors and the writing/editing team for being eager and consistent with the INSO project. Even if the INSO don't end up coming, your victory is that you are educating the world about such an unknown symphony. God bless you.Pardon my confusion, but I was unclear about Paul Anka's Arab origin. Which side of his family or is he an Arab from both sides and when did his parents come to North America? Congratulations! Keep up the wonderful work.
Warmest Regards from
Rita Cohen-Sharaf"

Reply to Rita Cohen-Sharaf from Wafaa'

"Thanks for your commentary and encouragement. Paul Anka's both parents are originally Lebanese Arabs who arrived in Canada in the early part of the 20th century. No exact date is available as to the arrival of his family. Unless you are writing some article about him and it is extremely important for you to know, then I will be encouraged to write to Paul Anka or phone his manager. Otherwise, I will leave it at that. Thanks again."


5. Apology

We would like to apologize for not including the article about Modern Arab Symphony Composers in this issue. The author of the article has been undergoing prolonged and serious health problems. We wish him well and promise to include his article in the March episode.


The INSO Writing/Editing Team:
Munir Allahwerdi, Clarinet Player (INSO) [Austria]
Jason Carter, Guitarist [UK]
Munther J. Hafeth, Composer, Musician (INSO) [IRAQ]
Nahla Jajo, Violinist (INSO) [IRAQ]
Andrew Jones, Violinist, Journalist [South Africa]
Salem A. Kareem, Composer & Oud player [UAE]
Beatrice Ohanessian, Composer, Pianist (INSO) [USA]
Bassim H. Petros, Cellist, Music Critic (INSO) [New Zealand]
Wafaa' Al-Natheema, List Moderator & Concert Tour Organizer [USA]

Monthly Newsletter
January, 2002
Episode 4
Distributed by Al-Wafaa News:

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In this episode:1. The INSO's performance by Nahla Jajo in Baghdad
3. INSO Tour Update
4. An Arab-American Popular Singer by Wafaa' Al-Natheema.


1. Report on the INSO's Performance
by Nahla Jajo
The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO), conductedby Mohammed Amin Izzat, gave two performances in Baghdad's Al-Rashid Theatre on January 23th and 24th.

The program included:

Dance Macabre ................ Saint-Saëns (French)
Symphony no. 85 ................Haydn (Austrian)
'The Queen' Concerto for the piano & orchestra no. 20 ....... Mozart (Ausrian)

In both performance dates, the hall was full with an increasingly approving, appreciative and pleased audience. One interesting aspect about the current INSO is that the entire Orchestra is comprised of Iraqi born and raised musicians, which is relatively uncommon in Middle Eastern Orchestras.

For The Records:

* Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): The best known of the thirteen operas completed by Saint-Saëns is "Samson et Dalila", a romantic treatment of the biblical story.

* Haydn (1732-1809): His many works include 104 symphonies, 85 string quartets, 52 piano sonatas, 4 oratorios and 14 Masses.

* Mozart (1756-1791): His three last and best symphonies (Nos. 39, 40 and 41) were composed in the astonishingly short time of about six weeks in the summer of 1788.


2. NEWS:

** Ojala CD has been selected # 6 in the Austin Chronicle's Top Ten lists of 2001. The CD was produced and performed by the Iranian-born Kamran Hooshmand [subscriber] and the Mexican-born Javier Palacios. The 11-song CD includes love songs in both Persian and Spanish languages, often within the same song. Fourteen additional musicians from around the world have participated in this production with a variety of instruments such as accordion, clarinet, guitar and the Middle Eastern drums. Hooshmand plays on the 11-stringed Oud (or lute), which gives the CD its Middle Eastern character.The Austin Chronicle's list include Tosca Tango Orchestra's release "La Ciudad del Tango", and the Latin/Cuban dance band La Tribu's release "Ataca!". To see the entire list, please access

More information about Ojala and how to order the CD can be obtained at their website at

** Fuad Mishu, one of the earliest musicians of the INSO, has celebrated his 80th birthday this January. He currently lives in Tennessee, USA.

** In February, Jason Carter will give several performances in the Gulf States of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. The dates and locations are: February 11, 02 at the Raddisson SAS Hotel in Bahrain and February 16 at the Virgin Megastore in Dubai, UAE. For tickets, call 04 3551862 or log on


3. INSO Tour Update
Wafaa' Al-Natheema conference called Andrew Jones in South Africa and Denis Morrison in Seattle on Saturday, January 19. The three discussed the tour idea, goals and plans as well as grant proposal writing and grant-giving organizations. Andrew Jone's main goal is to have the Durban's Natal Philharmonic Orchestra sponsor the tour. The Orchestra's director, Bongani Thembe, being a progressive individual and a friend of Jones provide a positive initiative. Denis Morrison of INOC (Interfaith Network of Concern for the People of Iraq) indicated that Sponeck had received the draft letter written by him and awaits the signature of Denis Hallidayand Hans Von Sponeck who were both United Nations Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq.


4. An Arab-American Popular Singer
by Wafaa' Al-Natheema

Although we focus on information and articles on classical and orchestral music as well as on symphony composers in these monthly episodes, every once in a while we will introduce other musical genres and types of artists. Paul Anka was born in 1941. He became popular at the age of fifteen, when the recording of his own song 'Diana' sold more than 9 million copies throughout the world. In 1959, he settled in the USA (Coming from Canada), where he composed the hits, 'Put Your Head on My Shoulder' for himself, 'She is A Lady' for Tom Jones, and 'My Way' for Frank Sinatra.

Anka gave limited performances in the 1960s. He reemerged in the 1970s with his song 'You're Having My Baby', which although failed to please the critics, it became a huge success. By the mid-1970s, Anka had produced fifteen gold records.


The INSO Writing/Editing Team:
Munir Allahwerdi, Clarinet Player (INSO) [Austria]
Jason Carter, Guitarist [UK]
Munther J. Hafeth, Composer, Musician (INSO) [IRAQ]
Nahla Jajo, Violinist (INSO) [IRAQ]
Andrew Jones, Violinist, Journalist [South Africa]
Salem A. Kareem, Composer & Oud player [UAE]
Beatrice Ohanessian, Composer, Pianist (INSO) [USA]
Bassim H. Petros, Cellist, Music Critic (INSO) [New Zealand]
Wafaa' Al-Natheema, List Moderator & Concert Tour Organizer [USA]