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Karim Wasfi: Fighting terror with music

Karim Wasfi: Fighting terror with music

This is culture

Karim Wasfi, a renowned conductor for the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, is fighting terror with his music. He has gained popularity after performing at different sites of explosions to express his defiance at the violence devastating his country.

Wasfi’s close friend, Ammar al-Shahbander, posted footage of his first performance in which he performs an original composition titled “Baghdad Mourning Melancholy.”

In the video, a man in a wheelchair rolls up slowly right next to Wasfi, taking in the unusual moment, while others gather to watch and listen.

Unlike what people think, we have a choice of fighting back.

Pictures and videos of his impromptu performances have gone viral on the internet not only on Iraqi social media but further afield.

His next performance came after a tragedy that affected him personally, his close friend, al-Shahbander was killed by a car bomb attack. The next morning, Wasfi put on a full white suit and grabbed his cello again. He has never stopped since.

Karim always turns up to perform by taking out his cello, sits on a chair, and starts to play as soldiers and police secure the area affected .

For him, this combination of music and place has become a form of resistance.

“This was an action respecting the souls and the spirits of the fallen ones due to terror around the world because we’re living the reality over here. The other side chose to turn every element, every aspect of life in Iraq into a battle and into a war zone. I chose to turn every corner of Iraq into a spot for civility, beauty and compassion,” Karim stated.

His audience are mostly made up of passersby, soldiers and shop owners who have faced bomb attacks.

Karim Wasfi’s performances led to a campaign he calls Music for Peace. Since April 2015, he has serenaded the dead at more than a dozen bombing sites in Iraq.

To him, terror attacks kill some instantly but imprison far more of the living. This is why he goes to the sites of their death to play his counter-song to win back the bruised hearts of the living and strengthen their will to go on.

Below is one of Karim Wasfi’s performance with Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.