English KURDI كوردي عربي
BAGHDAD, May 17 (AKnews) - The head of the Iraqi National Orchestra, Mohammed Amin Ezzat, said that the band is currently living its best days because of the hospitality received, especially from the Iraqi Culture Ministry.
Ezzat noted that the achievement of the orchestra's dream began to appear when the foundation stone for Iraq's opera house was put in place. Ezzat also accused the Iraqi media of being responsible for neglecting the orchestra's activities, adding that the success of the group abroad is more than inside Iraq.
What are your new activities at the moment?
These days were are trying to prepare for a broader artistic show for this season in agreement with the Municipality of Baghdad and al-Rashid TV to hold an artistic evening in Zowra Park at the end of this month. The invitations will be open to all in addition to inviting the ambassadors, politicians and MPs. We chose the park to attract the most number of people and allow everyone to know the activities and continue the work of the band.
Where did the band present its shows in the past?
Our activities were presented at the National Theater and the Academy of Fine Arts, in addition to Iraqi Said and Alawiya clubs. But the problem is that there is maintenance in the academy and we tended to chose alternative temporary locations.
For a long time your name was associated with the band, but you moved away for three years. Why did this happen?
I was appointed as the first Iraqi leader of the National Orchestra in 1989. Because of security conditions experienced in the country and my exposure to threat, I left Iraq in 2007 and I headed to the Netherlands for treatment, and stayed there for two years. But I was in constant contact with members of the band and its managing director at that time the artist Karim Wasfi. Today I'm trying to arrange the band and its work and members.
Is it true that the artist Karim Kanaan Wasfi, former band director, fled due to administrative and financial corruption lawsuits?
I also heard this, and some members issued lawsuits against Wasfi because of the exploitation of their efforts to serve a civil project that he founded which is Peace Art House to teach the art of music.
But I heard he preferred it to his government work in managing and leading the orchestra and appointed participants in the institute as musicians in the original band and they are not qualified for that, in addition to the lack of transparency in the issue of aid given to the band from external parties, organizations and Arab and international embassies.
How do you describe the situation of the band now?
I say it frankly that I'm leading the band from the administrative and artistic sides and I've never done this before. I mean the management of the band, but I was trying today to correct some mistakes that took place. There is cooperation with me and the band is today getting the support of the department that represents it in the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, through the Department of Cultural Relations, which offers all the possibilities available to us to develop our business. We were able to provide many successful concerts, including a grand ceremony in Tahrir Square.
The orchestra still performs relatively few concerts. Why is that?
The problem is that the events are costly and difficult at the same time, and need many rehearsals. We were able during this season to present three concerts a month to the national and private concerts and we have established about ten concerts during the last period of this year. In this month, for example, we set up the closing ceremony of the International Festival of Babil.
How many members does the band include?
The band includes 140 members, and now I divided it into two parts - the mother band which includes 80 members and the youth orchestra which includes 60 members in order to train the members of the youth band. In addition to that they also participate in certain events and concerts, and we seek to increase women's participation in the band as well. There are currently 15 girls and this number is low and we hope it will increase in the future after the improvement of security and social conditions.
Who are the members of the mother band? Are they local or international people, as in the past?
I say with pride that all members of the band are Iraqis and we have relied on Iraqi capabilities completely since 1990 when the foreign musicians left. We count on our colleges and technical schools in Iraq.
How would you describe the band and its activity before and after the regime change in 2003?
In fact, the band passed through a bad period in the presence of the previous regime and suffered from marginalization by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. In particular, I remember that a senior official in the regime described us as we described that we are musicians and colonialists and are trying to imitate the West!
The band however continued its activities. After 2003, we also passed through tough times because of the poor security situation and the threats that affected Iraq, and made the artist resort to hiding his instrument or his profession from others for fear of murder.
Did the religious movements that reached power in the government affect your work and your activities?
The case of militancy was the general situation in the Iraqi society, but no one ordered us to stop. We are respected by others because we represent the global music and for that we are still free from any objection. Even religious parties respect us because we offer a prominent art.
You faced difficulty in practicing your activities in the past because of the sadness that overwhelmed the Iraqi people after the waves of explosions. How did you work in such an atmosphere?
We were able to resolve it, because the issue is in the way of dealing with music and in the difficult circumstances we used to take into account these things where we presented pieces that represent sadness and we were encouraged by the love of the public and its thirst for art that we present.
The last concert that we did was in Iraqi Hunting Club and was attended by an unexpected number of audience members where the hall accommodates 300 people and the attendance was more than 750 people. Others had to stand outside the hall, but we nevertheless criticize the media because it doesn't shed light on our activities.
What is the level of your external participation?
We are having more success abroad more than inside because our art is admired and the last ceremony that was presented in the Beethoven Festival in Germany is the Camel of the Desert. It got a lot of admiration.
Finally, what do you aspire to?
The Opera House was an impossible dream, but now it has been achieved. The dream became true and the implementation process began for the first time in Iraq, where all the theaters that we have presented our work in were not ready to receive music shows. This means better sound systems and creating a special theatrical atmosphere in addition to training halls and others.
By Afrah Shawqi