Famous Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi will play in Northampton as part of a peace tour

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Published: 05/05/2022 11:11:06

NORTHAMPTON – Acclaimed cellist Karim Wasfi, conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Iraq, will give a free performance on Saturday May 7 at First Churches Northampton as part of his work with a non-profit group that uses l art as a response to war and violence.

Known as the “cellist of Baghdad”, Wasfi gained international recognition beginning in 2015 when he gave improvised recitals at the sites of several suicide bombings in Baghdad. As one account put it, “He was the man who made beautiful music among the rubble of a great city.”

He is also President and Founder of the Peace Through Art Global Foundation, a non-profit group that works to promote peace, healing and de-radicalization through music, creativity and cross-cultural understanding.

Wasfi has performed at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York, for example, and in other settings where violence and terrorism have taken place.

At the First Churches event, which starts at 5.30pm (doors open at 5.00pm), he will be joined by local artist and activist Jehann El-Bisi from Sunderland who will read an excerpt from his forthcoming book of poetry while Wasfi plays his cello.

Four of El-Bisi’s paintings will also be on display, depicting healing, activism, synergy and nature-inspired transformation.

“This event is an offering of light and encouragement to all in these difficult times,” the two artists said in a statement. “It is a celebration of collaboration, interconnectedness, synergy, yearning for peace and the restoration of humanity, felt by people around the world.”

According to the program notes, Wasfi’s appearance is part of his current tour of the United States, a tour designed to bring together “poets, painters and musicians” for a “people-to-people exchange of cultural arts between the United States and Iraq”.

Event organizers include First Churches, Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee and the Karim Wasfi Center For Creativity – Peace Through Arts.

Steve Pfarrer can be contacted at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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