FOR THE LOVE OF MU­SIC

IRAQ’S NA­TIONAL SYM­PHONY OR­CHES­TRA HAS SUR­VIVED DECADES OF UP­HEAVAL

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - SPECIAL REPORT - By Sammy Ketz

In a dusty Baghdad dance stu­dio, con­duc­tor Mo­hammed Amin Ez­zat tries to ire up the mu­si­cians of Iraq’s Na­tional Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, whose en­thu­si­asm has been damp­ened by eight months with­out pay.

An age­ing air con­di­tioner ights to beat back the sum­mer heat in the cramped space at the cap­i­tal’s School of Mu­sic and Bal­let as the 57-year-old mae­stro leads the group through a re­hearsal of Mod­est Mus­sorgsky’s Night on Bald Moun­tain.

The shaggy-haired Ez­zat and the 40 mu­si­cians sur­round­ing him were gear­ing up to per­form at Baghdad’s Na­tional Theatre, but the group’s morale is at an all-time low.

The en­sem­ble has lost more than half its

The en­sem­ble has lost more than half its mem­bers since the be­gin­ning of the year be­cause they have not been paid.

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