Karim Wasif

“Unlike what people think, we have a choice of fighting back . . . We can't just surrender to the impending doom of uncertainty by not functioning.  But I think it’s an awakening for everybody to make a choice on how they live, not how they want to die”.


These are the words of Karim Wasif, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra from an NPR interview in 2015.  I am usually taken to writing about visual art and glass art in particular for obvious reasons, but I was so touched by Karim Wasif’s bravery in the face of constant terror, and his more important active message of the power of music and art that I feel it deserves attention.

John Hockenberry reiterates in his interview of January 4th with Mr. Wasif (http://www.wnyc.org/story/fighting-terrorists-cello), that this has become a weapon of civility in face of ugliness and uncertainty.  Well used in past conflicts.

Shostakovich under Stalin wrote the War Symphonies, Pablo Casals boycott of Franco and fascists, and Leonard Bernstein’s performance of “ode to Joy”.  All share in common “a moral obligation to overcome ugliness and uncertainty through something that is certain, the power of music".

Happy New Year

 

Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,

Daughter from Elysium,

We enter, drunk with fire,

Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!

Your magics join again

what the sword of custom divided;

Beggars become brothers with lords,

where your gentle wing abides.

-Excerpt “Ode to Joy” Friedrich Schiller.

For more info and videos of performances, please see links:

Karim Wasif

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tyDtGAGoqI&t=53s

http://www.wnyc.org/story/fighting-terrorists- cello

Pablo Casals

http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ca-Ch/Casals- Pablo.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T8DjwLt_c4

Shostakovitch 

http://www.albany.edu/jmmh/vol2no1/warsymphonies.html

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-- fSOJzGJnM&t=75s

Beethoven 9

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IInG5nY_wrU