Thursday, September 28, 2006

"[L]ike oxygen"

Izzat Ghafouri Baban is a trumpeter in the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra:

"I can't practice in my house because I'm surrounded by husseiniyas," Mr. Baban, 41, said, referring to Shiite mosques that are named after the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. "Imagine if somebody hears there's a musician in my home. They'd think I'm against religion."

He squeezes in practice by arriving at the rehearsal hall two hours before his colleagues.

"The only thing that keeps us happy is when we see each other," said Mr. Baban, a stumpy man with gray hair and a grin as wide as a tuba's bell. "It's the happiest moment in our lives."
Ali Nasser is a trombonist:
Mr. Nasser, perhaps even more than others, has proved his dedication to music. A baker in the southern city of Nasiriya, he drives or takes a taxi to rehearsals. That is a four- to six-hour drive each way, and soaring gasoline prices mean the trip sucks up half of his income. Even worse, the road runs through the "Triangle of Death," an area infested with insurgents, militiamen and criminal gangs. Gunmen once shot dead passengers in a taxi just a few cars ahead of him.

"My wife says: 'Please don't go. Life is very bad in Baghdad. There's a lot of death in Baghdad,'" he said. "She tries to prevent me from coming, but I have to come. We can't survive without music. It's like oxygen.”
From a New York Times article on the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra

Link: And the Orchestra Plays On, Echoing Iraq's Stuggles

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