Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra

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'Karim Wasfi is a renowned cellist, conductor, global peace building visionary as the founder of Peace Through Arts Foundation, a fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra 2007-2016 and established the Italy Iraq Scholarship program in Modena as well as British Council office in 2005. Utilizing the sound resonance on brain, neuroscience function, cultural diplomacy, a unique music & sound approach for healing, cross cultural integration, de radicalization, prevention of tension. His innovative approach helped thousands of people in crises areas to rise from violence, fear, intimidation of terror, conveying creative peaceful Resonance of music, sound and arts. With current efforts to rebuild Iraq’s war torn areas, focusing on healing and rebuilding inner and societal peace, aiming to proactively prevent future relapse to war and conflict, Peace Through Arts functions as a tool towards sustained stability and capacity growth. Efforts has been widely covered by international media including BBC, CNN, New York times, WP, Forbes among others, his YouTube videos playing music in the aftermath of explosions in defiance against terror. In recognition for his transformative positive difference for the future of humanity and the world Maestro Wasfi was the 2018 GLOBA DIPLOMAT OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY in Abu Dhabi the 2015 Humanitarian of the year by the Arabian Global Business community, the 2016 Asia Game Changers Award by the Asia Society & The Rockefeller Foundation to mention few. Studied Physics and Philosophy at Cairo University and MA in music performance, and conducting at the world prestigious Indiana University School of Music-Bloomington Indiana USA. Performed and conducted in USA, EU, UK, Middle East.==History== The orchestra began as the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra in 1944 by Albert Chaffoo. It performed for approximately two years and was disbanded after Albert Chaffoo left Iraq and returned to London to continue his musical career. Many members of the former Baghdad Symphony later formed the future Iraqi National Symphony[1][2][3] The orchestra became officially known as the Iraqi National Symphony in 1959 when it began to receive a salary from the government. The INSO was abolished by the Iraqi Minister of Culture in 1962 and rehearsed underground until 1970, when it was re-established. Over the next ten years, the orchestra toured France, Spain, Algeria, Lebanon and Jordan,[4] and hosted guest musicians and conductors from many countries. But during the 1980s and 1990s many musicians, plagued by financial hardship, left the country to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Although its home theater was burned by looters during the April 2003 invasion of Baghdad, the orchestra performed a concert in Baghdad in June 2003 and subsequently traveled through northern Iraq, recruiting new members.[5]

In December 2003, the orchestra performed a joint concert with the U.S. National Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center in Washington, co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department. President George W. Bush and First lady Laura Bush attended the concert, and Colin Powell introduced the orchestra.[6]

The INSO is currently managed and conducted by Karim Wasfi.


Representative of the diversity of Iraq, its 90+ musicians now include Shi'a, Sunni, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrian Christians, and Turkomen, as well as six women, one of whom is the first American woman to join in the history of the orchestra.[7] Due to rising sectarian divisions in Iraq some musicians sit away from each other at rehearsals.[8]

Famous attendees[edit]


  1. ^ La Jolla Light Newspaper,April 22, 2010.
  2. ^ cite web
  3. ^ "INSO Monthly Newsletter, November, 2001". Retrieved 2006-10-02.
  4. ^ "The Sweet Sound of Propaganda". The Independent. 2003-12-12.
  5. ^ Strings Magazine
  6. ^ Colin Powell (2003-12-09). "Remarks at Performance of Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra".
  7. ^ Phyllis McIntosh. "President Bush, Secretary Powell welcome Iraqi musicians to Kennedy Center". Coalition Provisional Authority. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  8. ^ "Iraq's orchestra: The melody of life and death". The Economist. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.

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