Amid continuing bloodshed involving Iraqis, Americans, Palestinians, and Israelis, the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra is preparing to strike a different note in the region: It's rehearsing for a July concert featuring Mozart's Symphony No. 40. That symphony's opening is known as the "rocket" theme, by the way.
Middle East Online's Marc Carnegie reports that even though the orchestra's director was injured in the bombing and cannot play his clarinet, even though one violinist has befriended Americans and now fears Islamist reprisal, even though rehearsal time has been severely cut back due to the danger in the streets, even though members haven't been paid since before the war (and the U.S.-appointed head of Iraq's culture ministry failed to show up for a meeting), even though the performance of classical music is a challenge to Islamists, the orchestra is nonetheless going forward.
"We were the first symphony orchestra in the Arab world," said director Hisham Sharaf. "All we can do is keep performing our music and hope for the best. This is our lives."
Thanks to Arts Journal.