At Baghdad’s Bomb Sites, Chaos, and a Cellist Playing Music

After the bombs hit, Karim Wasfi comes by to play music amongst the pain.

Karim Wasfi is an accomplished cellist and conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. While the artist normally performs in established halls and centers, he’s recently been showing up to slightly more non-traditional venues: bomb sites. For the past few weeks, Wasfi has traveled to explosion sites in Baghdad with his black suit and his cello. Amidst all the terrible trauma, he comes to play music.

Wasfi told Morning Edition that, “The other side chose to turn … 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.” Wasfi came up with the idea after an attack in his nearby neighborhood of Masour nearly destroyed him. The choice was simple—either live in his house in fear, or go outside and try to make something meaningful amongst all the pain.

After the first time he did it, Wasfi knew he had to continue: “People were supportive. They were appreciating the fact that someone can still at least lead their emotions and spirits towards something beautiful, to rise above the intimidation of improvised death.” He’s since had multiple performances, a conductor intent on bringing music to the places where it’s often hardest to hear.

Image via YouTube