Friday, March 27, 2009

Zuhal Sultan - National Youth Orchestra Of Iraq

I couple of days ago I received a request via the email below.

It is about a young Iraqi woman, named Zuhal Sultan. According to the email, Ms. Sultan is campaigning to form the first ever National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, with further plans to tour around Iraq. At the moment she is in the UK to participate in a conference.

More about this below.

Anyone living in the UK and reading this post, please pass through the message below and if anyone can attend this event and get some pictures, maybe, that would be nice to post it here too or let me know where they are posted.

Any way of support given is much appreciated to make this initiative a success.

I am writing on behalf of a wonderful initiative that a young pianist in Baghdad is campaigning to establish in Iraq. If you are currently in the UK we would like to invite you to a very special event and we would be very grateful if you could forward information via your website, and suggest individuals or organisations with whom we might get in touch to make the most of this special opportunity.

17 year old Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan is campaigning to form the first ever National Youth Orchestra of Iraq. Zuhal believes the orchestra can bring together young people from different racial and religious groups. She wants the orchestra to give the young people a voice and to help them feel optimistic about their country and their future: “I am aware that I cannot erase years of war and conflict damage, but what I can do is bring positivity back into people's lives.”

Zuhal plans to form an orchestra of young people that meets at a summer academy for rehearsals each year, then tours across Iraq and abroad.

So far Zuhal has gained the on-going support of Channel 4’s youth campaigning project ‘Battlefront’, voluntary music charity Making Music, US-based music organisation Musicians For Harmony and conductor Paul MacAlindin. She also has the support of the Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who has offered to be the orchestra’s composer-in-residence.

Zuhal has been scouring her country for talent and has already found 40 potential youth orchestra members. Her current quest is to find professional musicians abroad to volunteer one-to-one tuition for these young people via the web. Not only is there currently no youth orchestra in Iraq but there is also a dire shortage of professional musicians in Iraq to train these young musicians in their craft.

It’s an ambitious project, but Zuhal is an extraordinary and gifted young woman, and she is determined to succeed in her plans.

In a wonderful and timely gesture the British Council and Fairsay (eCampaigning charity) have made it possible for Zuhal to travel to the UK and participate in an international eCampaigning conference. While she is here, she will give a recital at the Wigmore Hall in London at 1pm on Thursday 2 April, hosted by Battlefront. Zuhal will play and then talk about her project and about life in Iraq for her and her peers, with a Q & A session. It will offer a unique opportunity to learn more about this inspiring project.

Tickets for this event are free – you just need to sign up at or email

Whatever your interest – be it in spreading the word, in volunteering as a trustee, as a potential donor to this project as it gets off the ground, or simply out of personal interest in seeing something positive happening in Iraqi musical life – please come and support Zuhal at this event and join us in welcoming her to her first visit to the UK.

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