'Maestro of Baghdad' brings sounds of 'peace, coexistence' to ruins of Iraq's Mosul

Karim Wasfi, in full concert dress, played on a makeshift stage among the most iconic religious monuments of Iraq's second city
'Maestro of Baghdad' brings sounds of 'peace, coexistence' to ruins of Iraq's Mosul
Famed Iraqi maestro and cello player Karim Wasfi performs in front of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosuls war-ravaged Old City on June 29, 2018, one year after the mosque was destroyed during battles to retake the city from the ISIL group.
By AFP
Sun 01 Jul 2018 08:12 AM

Iraqi cellist and conductor Karim Wasfi has played a concert for "peace and co-existence" amid the ruins of Mosul, almost a year after Iraqi forces ousted the ISIL group from the capital of its self-declared "caliphate".

Dozens of people attended on Friday as Wasfi, in full concert dress, played on a makeshift stage among the most iconic religious monuments of Iraq's second city.

The venue lay between the Catholic church of Our Lady of the Hour with its famed clock tower and the remains of the iconic Hadba ("hunchback") leaning minaret next to the Nuri Mosque, destroyed during the battle for the city.

Wasfi was joined by the violinist, guitar and oud players of local band Awtar Nerkal.

"This music is a message from Mosul to the whole world, of the concepts of security, peace and coexistence," said Wasfi.

The dual Iraqi-US national is former conductor of Iraq's National Symphony Orchestra and has been nicknamed "Iraq's Rostropovich" after the Russian maestro cellist.

'I play music to create hope, to help people who have no past, present or future': The extraordinary tale of the Iraqi cellist fighting bombs with music

The story of Karim Wasfi made global headlines earlier this year. In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, the Iraqi national explains why his craft can be “a bridge between civilisations”.

The music was "a call for companies, investors and organisations to come and take part in the reconstruction of the city, especially its destroyed Old Town", the bearded and bespectacled artist said.

The impromptu concert came in the same week that Iraqi authorities finally launched clean-up operations in the city that jihadists held for three years until their ouster in July 2017.

Several times over the past three years, Wasfi, who was born in Cairo, has taken his cello onto the streets of Baghdad to play at bomb sites shortly after attacks.

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