Wednesday, December 13, 2006

INSO E-Newsletter: Episode 17

Bimonthly Newsletter
Of the
IRAQI National Symphony Orchestra (INSO)
Episode 17 
October 2003
The 2nd Anniversary
Distributed by Al-Wafaa Website:

(*_*) (*_*) (*_*) (*_*) (*_*)

"Music is everything that war isn't"

Nobar Pashtikian, INSO, Baghdad


Inside This Issue:
1. Announcements
2. News & Reports
3. Reestablishing The INSO by Laman Al-Bakri
4. INSO's "Founders & Early Initiators" Part II


1. Announcements:

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) will be performing at the Kennedy Center on December 9th at 6 PM. The FREE concert has been sponsored by the Kennedy Center and the State Department. No information is yet available regarding advanced reservations. The Kennedy Center will post information about the event on their website after November 15th.

Unless we receive a yearly subscription of $10 from at least one hundred subscribers, this bimonthly e-newsletter will be discontinued in 2004. The final episode will be sent on or by December 24. This bimonthly newsletter has been in existence since September 2001. The first episode was emailed in October 2001. It has been maintained solely by Wafaa' Al-Natheema and has been costing her a tremendous amount of time, energy and money (mainly in the form of long distance calls to members of the writing/editing team). This yearly subscription will help cover the cost incurred by members of the writing/editing team. Thousands of hours of researching, writing, editing and email corresponding have been spent since September 2001. For those who wish to send the yearly subscription, you will be provided with the mailing address when we receive email requests from at least one hundred individuals by November 15. Otherwise, this e-newsletter will be discontinued.

2. News & Reports

* In early September, the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received a small shipment of strings for violin, viola and cello from two companies in Australia; The Violineri, Inc. and Alex W. Grant Violins.

* The September issue (2003) of Strad Magazine, published in the UK, featured a paragraph on the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) mentioning the Orchestra's establishment, recent performance and needs providing INEAS's email address. As a result of this paragraph, the Australian companies contacted INEAS and donated strings (see news above)

* From a September-8th report (sent via email), Hisham Sharaf,the director of the INSO reported that Omar Abdul Razzak, a cello player with the INSO and the Baghdad Music Group, was injured in the August bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Omar was treated in Amman, Jordan. In a recent email from Nahla Jajjo, former INSO violinist (in Paris), she reported that Omar is well and currently living in Amman.

* In the early part of September, Hisham Sharaf met with representatives from UNESCO and UNICEF as well as with the Swiss Ambassador in Baghdad to identify the list of needs for both the INSO and the Music & Ballet School. No information has been provided since then as to whether donations have been actually received by the INSO from the above mentioned entities.

* In late October, donations, in the form of money as well as new and old strings for various instruments, were received by INEAS. Howard Hersch mailed the package from Nevada City, CA. Hersch and Anna Gold sent two checks. Lena Andaya of Sacramento, Anna Gold, Nancy Hill and Judy Bromley of Nevada City as well as Members of the Auburn Symphony in Auburn, CA, all contributed strings.

* The Women's delegation (which has been organized by INEAS) will be arriving in Iraq in the end of November. Details about the trip's duration, reports on the meeting with musicians of the INSO in Baghdad and about the donations given to members of the Orchestra will all be included in the December episode of this bimonthly newsletter. Donations are still being collected by INEAS and should be received on or by November 3rd. If unable to send musical spare parts or checks by that date and still wish to make a donation, Credit Card donations are accepted over the phone. Contact information for the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS) is as follows:
P.O. Box 425125 Cambridge, MA 02142 USA

* Laman Al-Bakri (in London) and Mohammed Siddiq (in Amman) recently joined this newsletter's writing/editing team. It was due to Laman's efforts and persistence that the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra was reestablished in 1971. Details on her background appear under Founders and Early Initiators (Part II) below. She has written an article for this episode detailing her personal account by mentioning her work in reestablishing the Orchestra. The team also welcomes Mohammed Siddiq who currently lives in Jordan. He began studying piano at the age of six, then continued his studies at The Music and Ballet School in Baghdad where he obtained his diploma in Piano. On scholarship, Siddiq attended the Gnesins State Academy of Moscow and obtained his Masters Degree. In 1991, he became the conductor of the INSO. Since 1994, he has been the conductor of the National Music Conservatory of Noor al Hussein Foundation in Jordan. His compositions won the First Composition Prize at Baghdad's 2nd Competition, the Grand Prize in the 6th Arab Songs Competition in Cairo-Egypt, and the First Prize at the 2nd Jordanian Song Competition in 2002.


3. Re-establishing The INSO -- A Personal Account
By Laman Al-Bakri

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) has been established in the 1950s. As a matter of fact, the Orchestra's musicians have been active in rehearsals and concerts more than a decade earlier, until it ceased its activities in 1966. As a music lover with a diploma from the Institute of Fine Arts in piano, I realized that the time was ripe for reestablishing the INSO knowing I was working at the Ministry of Information. So I had along talk with the Minister, Shafiq al-Kamaly in 1969/70. After presenting him with a detailed report, he encouraged me to go ahead with the project.At that time, I was the coordinator between the foreign cultural institutes in Baghdad (i.e. the German Goethe Institute) and the Ministry of Culture.

The Goethe Institute was the most active educational entity in music at that time. So I approached its representative for an advice, and simultaneously I contacted some of the members of the Orchestra for advice as well.We had to assign a conductor first, but whom? Also our budget needed extensive planning. We had to choose a place for rehearsals and a proper hall for concerts. After a while, the Goethe Institute came up with a proposal to help choose a conductor and to assist in paying him salary from the budget assigned to them for cultural exchange. I submitted the name and the proposal to the Minister, Al-Kamaly, who instructed me to get the approval of the Ministry of Finance and promised to allocate money for the members of the Orchestra as a part-time job. Thanks to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Amin Abdul Karim, who was a music lover as well, for his efforts in obtain money and the approval of the contract from the Revolutionary Council, which was necessary to Assign Mr. Mommer as the German conductor for the Orchestra.

Mr. Mommer arrived in Baghdad in 1971, and immediately began to form the members of the Orchestra. Because we didn't have any professionals at that time, he hired some of the musicians who were working at the Institute of Fine Arts and chose German musicians as well. Then I started seeking places for rehearsals. Because I was responsible for managing the Ballet School, which later became known as the Music and Ballet School, I was able to cultivate a large room for rehearsals of both the students and the Orchestra members. After extensive efforts, we were able to utilize the Khuld Hall and began in 1971 to give concerts on a monthly basis. Although I left the Ministry, and therefore, my involvement with the INSO in 1973, I was proud to be not just the main reason for the re-establishment of the INSO, but for allowing the INSO move ahead with many achievements including its tours in Russia in 1976 and Lebanon in the early 1980s.

Former Minister 
Shafiq Al-Kamaly

Lived and studied in Iraq. He also studied literature in Egypt. Al-Kamaly became the Minister of Youth and Information in the 1970s and the head of the Union of Arab Writers. He is a published poet. One of his translated (from Arabic) poems is entitled,"Coda." It reads:
They say in my village
I was born
With one hand placed
Over my heart
The men said
This child will live
With the heart of a prophet
And the women of the tribe"Rejoice!" they said
Hailing the future lover But the old men
Were holding back their tears
And keeping calm.

4. "Founders & Early Initiators" [Part II]

In this part, we acknowledge Sami Al-Sheikh QassimFu'ad MishuMunir Allahwerdi and Petros Hanna Petros from the earliest decade of rehearsals and performances during the 1940s. We also acknowledge Laman Al-Bakri for her efforts in reestablishing the INSO in 1971.

Fu'ad Mishu
 (b. 1922 in Baghdad - )

Joined The Music Institute (later the Fine Arts Institute) in 1937 where he studied Clarinet under Hanna Petros, Oud under Muhiddin Heidar, and Violin under Sandu Albu. He studied andworked in engineering simultaneously. Fu'ad played Clarinet with the Wind Instrument Band of the Institute. As a violin player, he joined the first Orchestra's performance, organized within the FAI at the Iraqi Royal Medical College in early 1940s. When the Orchestra was reorganized in 1948-49, Fu'ad was the 2nd violin leader. Fu'ad and his brothers Luis (on Cello) and Nathum (on Clarinet) were among the members of the Orchestra since its reformation in 1948-49. He moved to the USA three decades ago where he continued performing, lecturing and holding musical sessions. He currently lives in Knoxville, TN.

Munir Allahwerdi
 (b.1926 in Basra - )

Joined the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad in October 1942. He Performed in many chamber music and orchestralconcerts in Iraq as well as on radio and TV from 1945 mainlyas solo clarinetist and sometimes as contrabassist. Created thefirst clarinet class and taught the instrument at the Fine ArtsInstitute. Graduated as a civil engineer from the Engineering College and as clarinetist from the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad 1948. Earned Master's of Science from the State University ofIowa. Munir worked as the head of the Arab States unit at the UNFinancing System for Science and Technology for Development1980-1985. In 1985, Munir retired in Vienna where he formed agroup of chamber music players from various well-knownorchestras and performed in Vienna and in Finland.


Laman Al-Bakri
 (b.1929 in Baghdad-- )

A Lawyer and an Art Critic. In 1954, she earned a BA inLaw (Baghdad University) and a Diploma in Music focusing on Piano at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad.In the 1970s, she became Director of Culture at the Ministry of Culture and Guidance where she managed to reestablishing the INSO and the School for Ballet, then combined it with the School for Music to become the School for Music and Ballet. She currently lives in London.

Petros Hanna Petros
 (b.1930 in Baghdad -1998)

A Graduate of the Fine Arts Institute (FAI), where he studied Trumpet under Hanna Petros, and Violin, under Jamil Saeed. He held a Business Administration Degree. In addition to his principle profession as an accountant then an entrepreneur, he played an important role in the music education as a teacher at the FAI. He played with almost every musical group organized within the FAI, wind instrument bands, chamber music groups and the Symphony Orchestra. He also played French Horn and Percussion. Petros along with his two brothers, Sabah and Bassim, and their father, Hanna Petros, were among the members of the Orchestra since its reformation in 1948-49. In 1959, Petros held the post of leader of the Brass Section. He moved to the UK in 1977 and lived there until he passed away in 1998.

Sami Qassim
 (b. in Baghdad, d. in the USA, years unavailable)

Dr. Sami Abdul Razzaq Al Shaikh Qassim who died in the USA as Dr. Sami Kassim was among the earliest founders of the INSO. Qassim studied violin at the Fine Arts Institute under the tutoring of Sandu Albu for the years 1941-1946 while attending the Royal Medical College in Baghdad. He organized several concerts at the college. Sami can be credited for the establishment of the first Iraqi string quartet during the early 1940s. Members of the quartet were Sami Qassim as first violinist, Nouri Mustafa Behjet and Mahmoud Al Awqati alternating as second violinists, Mustafa Ibrahim Edhem as viola player and Hagop Kouyoumdjian as cellist. The quartet performed for the Baghdad (short wave) Radio service. Sami formed string quartets wherever he resided and played in local community orchestras as a first violinist and concert master. He passed away while in the USA due to cancer possibly in 1992.


The INSO Writing/Editing Team:

Laman Al-Bakri, Lawyer, Art Critic [England]
Munir Allahwerdi, Clarinet Player, Engineer (INSO) [Austria]
Wafaa' Al-Natheema, List Moderator & Concert Tour Organizer [USA]
Agnes Bashir, Pianist, Composer (INSO) [Jordan]
Munther J. Hafeth, Composer, Musician (INSO) [IRAQ]
Nahla Jajo, Violinist, Architect (INSO) [France]
Beatrice Ohanessian, Composer, Pianist (INSO) [USA]
Bassim H. Petros, Cellist, Music Critic (INSO) [New Zealand]
Zaid E. Shawket, Violinist, Mathematician (INSO) [France]
Mohammed O. Siddiq, Conductor, Composer (INSO) [Jordan]