"And someone heard the shepherd singing, and again I heard nothing. Such incidents brought me to the verge of despair..and I would have put an end to my life. But art it was that withheld me. It seemed impossible to leave this world without producing all that I have been called upon to produce, and so I endured this dreadful existence" (L.W.Beethoven). "And so Beethoven broke through the barrier of his deafness, went on to write his most joyful Second Symphony, and like the Youth National Orchestra of Iraq, used Hell as a spring board to get to Heaven" (Paul MacAlindin)
One day, whilst eating fish and chips in an Edinburgh pub, music conductor Paul MacAlindin came across a call for help from Zuhal Sultan in a newspaper lying on the table. This 17 year old pianist in Baghdad wanted to start a National Youth Orchestra of Iraq and needed a conductor.
In the coming months of 2009, they worked tirelessly online with British Council Iraq and Musicians for Harmony between Cologne, New York and Baghdad, to produce their first summer course in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with young musicians from across the whole country.
Since then, the orchestra has survived logistical, funding, cultural and visa cliffhangers alongside enormous musical challenges to transform itself into a high profile cultural diplomat, performing in Beethovenfest in 2011, Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012 and this August in Provence, Cultural Capital of Europe.
Paul not only rehearses and conducts the orchestra, but helps them to foster the skills to create their own ensembles and teach in Iraq. Behind the scenes, he has innovated around the countless obstacles required for building a national youth orchestra in a war-torn country.
His commitment and the generosity and faith of many supporters has allowed these musicians to continue their epic journey of reconnecting each other, Iraq and the international community, through the power of music.
-- National Youth Orchestra of Iraq on VIMEO
-- Read The ‘Bravest Orchestra in the World’
-- Read "'We Need To Be Human': Zuhal Sultan On Starting The Iraqi Youth Orchestra"