Iraqi Symphony Orchestra: Grace Under Fire
The musicians of the IRAQI NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA have had their shares of ups and downs over the years, but the worsening violence in Baghdad struck close to home last fall for cellist Tariq Yasin. In October, his father was kidnapped and presumed killed in retribution for Yasin’s close ties to the United States—the INSO used to rehearse within the US military’s protected Green Zone and Yasin twice traveled to the States to raise awareness about the orchestra, performing—along with Yo-Yo Ma—for President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in 2003. Recently, insurgents stole Yasin’s cello. The treasured instrument later showed up in a teeming Baghdad marketplace—riddled with bullet holes. Yasin had to plunk down $500 to buy back the damaged cello.
In November, Musicians for Harmony, a New York-based nonprofit that cosponsored the INSO’s trips to New York and Washington, set up a fund to help relocate Yasin and his family to northern Iraq, which has experienced relative stability. He joins a growing number of INSO members forced to flee by the surging violence; most have chosen to leave the country.
But not Yasin.
“We are asking all those who have had a personal connection with the wonderful musicians of the Iraqi Orchestra to give what they can to this fund,” says Allegra Klein, the agency’s executive director.
Donations to the Tariq Emergency Fund may be made to Musicians for Harmony, Inc. at 345 East 93rd Street, Suite 12B, New York, NY 10128. Or, donate online at networkforgood.org. All donations are tax-deductible.