Wednesday, December 13, 2006

INSO E-Newsletter: Episode 12

Bi-Monthly Newsletter
Of the
IRAQI National Symphony Orchestra (INSO)
Episode 12 
November 2002
Distributed by Al-Wafaa NewsWebsite:

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In this episode:
1. News
2. INSO South African Tour Update by Andrew Jones
3. Jawad Selim: A Great Icon of Iraqi Art by Munir Allahwardi

The Next Issue will be emailed in the end of January. Subscribers are welcome to send their news and announcements by January 15.

Ramadhan Mubarek to all those who are fasting. We wish you a joyful Eidul Fitr, a happy Hanukkah, a merry Christmas and a fruitful and peaceful New Year
1. NEWS:

* The Babylon Festival of Iraq, which took place in Babylon in September 2002, had unique programs. Among the programs were the performances of both the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) and the Algerian Symphony Orchestra. They performed separately and jointly at the Festival. The large theater was completely sold out. Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," and Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" were among the pieces that were performed by the INSO at the Festival.

* Nahla Jajo, one of the INSO's young talented violinists and one of the writers/reporters of this INSO bi-monthly magazine, has been in Dordogne, southwest of France since the early fall on a scholarship to give violin lessons to students ages five to eighteen (18) while learning violin techniques. The scholarship, which has been made possible by funding from the Music Esperance, a non-profit organization that helps sponsoring children's concerts, will involve her in orchestral participation as well.


2. INSO South African Tour Update
by Andrew Jones
The climate in South Africa is difficult to say the least. The Islamic community is fractured. The media offers little or no real insight into the Middle East or Pacific Islamic situations. Most news is couched within the context of Saddam versus Bush. Despite this I have tried for the last few months to engage parties whom I think might be interested in sponsoring an orchestral tour and I've committed my own company to supporting this in whatever way we can. It hasn't been easy, but I think it will happen. In fact, I'm sure it will happen. We just have to be very patient, very persistent and hope that the powers that be decide against war. I'll keep you all posted.

3. Jawad Selim: A Great Icon of IRAQI Art
by Munir Allahwerdi

During the mid 1940s while at the Fine Arts Institute studying the clarinet, Jawad Selim and I met. Jawad was in his mid-twenties and had just returned from an interrupted study mission in Europe due to the break out of World War II. He was fond of playing the guitar, but only as his hobby since his official mission in Europe was to study sculpture. Selim was looking for someone who played an instrument to accompany him on the guitar for the pleasure of playing music together. He invited me to his home in old Baghdad and showed me his guitar and some of his flute and guitar music. At that first visit, he also played some solo passages on the guitar and we quickly agreed to play together after I transposed the flute part for my B-Flat clarinet. Thus the basis for a lifetime friendship was established when I met with what was to become "the first Iraqi whose fingers produced beautiful things since Hammurabi" as quoted by Rifat Al-Chadirchi with whom I was walking during Jawad's funeral. Jawad and I played and performed in college programs as well as on Baghdad Radio for years. He wanted to expose Iraqis to western music, so he found a natural ally in me and in those who were interested in introducing western classical music to the Iraqi audience. And aside from exposing people to fine recorded music, we all believed that the most effective way for achieving such goal was to expose Iraqis to the music live, and even better, was performed by Iraqi musicians. After all, music, from whichever country, is part of the human heritage, and has a universal message. Jawad's vision toward western music and the arts came at a time when learning about and implementing western arts were considered westernization and was resisted by Iraqi society.
To illustrate further Jawad's thinking: In 1952, I recall on occasion of opening of an arts exhibit at the Higher Teacher's Training College in Baghdad where he was teaching. He asked me to walk with him through the paintings and insisted that I pass my opinion on them. After a long silence not wanting to say a word in front of a great master such as Jawad, he insisted again that I give him my feedback. As I began to voice my opinion, we were in front of a painting by Shakir Hassan As-Sa'eed. So I said Shakir seemed to have been influenced by Amedio Modigliani. Jawad looked at me and said: "That is exactly what I wanted to hear.. Let him be influenced by Modiglani." The guitar was Jawad's favorite instrument. He wanted to explain that this instrument was a logical development of the Arabian Lute (Oud). He requested (and received) my assistance in preparing a lecture with musical illustrations on the guitar and why the Lute was almost totally abandoned and replaced by the guitar in Europe. Selim established the Iraqi Guitar Society in Baghdad and began to give guitar lessons. His involvement in music was not limited to the guitar. It covered the orchestra as well.On his involvement with the orchestra which later became the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) and about his thoughts concerning his major work (The Hurriyah Monument), I feel I should write another article later on.

Jawad Selim was born to his Iraqi parents in Ankara in 1919. He was married to a British artist and with her, Jawad had two daughters; Zayneb and Maryam.


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