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Iraqi Kids growing up in the sound of explosions and sirens, find Refuge in Music

The motto of "Children's Orchestra," a summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism”

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Iraqi kids playing musical instruments. Image source: VOA

Sept 06, 2016: In Iraq and many other places in the world, children grow up to the sound of explosions and sirens too often. But in a classroom in Basra, a different sound surrounds them — music.

“Children’s Orchestra” is the brainchild of Adnan Sahi, head of the music department at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Basra. The motto of this summer program is “Culture fights backwardness and extremism.”

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“Human behavior in general, and children’s is a response to a stimulus- a reflection of their environment,” Sahi says. “What we’re trying do is keep the Iraqi child from the negative environmental effects caused by the surrounding violent tensions. We try to keep our children away from the language of violence, the language of exclusion.”

This is his work of art. He envisions the “Children’s Orchestra” as a safe haven for these children. Kids as young as five can join the program to learn a set of skills they would never pick up, if they were left to play in the streets.

Enrollment in this music school is free, but students had to buy their own instruments.

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Ridha Falah says playing instruments is a unique experience for him. “I haven’t seen a piano before, only on TV,” he says, “but now we are playing with one in addition to the guitar and violin, so it’s way better than playing with toy guns and that sort of stuff.”

Instructors volunteer to work with kids because they share Sahi’s belief that music can shield children from the violence around them and provide them with a fun and positive summer experience before they go back to school.

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Basra’s “Children’s Orchestra” is not the first attempt to help kids heal and thrive through arts.Other projects included an art program in an Iraqi orphanage in Bagdad, and a ballet school in Arbeel.

Different approaches to the same end; using art to change Iraqi children’s lives, so they can change their world. (VOA)

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Whole Atmosphere of Mandi House Culturally Rich with Music, Literature, Art and Theatre

Now, in professional theatre, people are buying tickets for you and that's really exciting for an actor

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The whole atmosphere of Mandi House is very culturally rich with music, literature, art and theatre. Pixabay

‘Crime Patrol’ anchor Annup Sonii, who once basked in the cultural glory of Delhi’s Mandi House and performed in its popular auditoriums as a drama student, finds it thrilling to act in the area as a professional actor now.

Annup, 44, will be seen in the national capital for a theatre production ‘Ballygunge 1990’, directed by Atul Satya Koushik and presented by the Film and Theatre Society.

It will be staged at Mandi House’s Kamani Auditorium on July 21 — one of the places where the actor performed as a student.

“In my family, there’s no one related to this industry or films or theatre. For me, everything was new and exciting. The whole atmosphere of Mandi House is very culturally rich with music, literature, art and theatre.

Mandi House, Rich, Music
Annup, 44, will be seen in the national capital for a theatre production ‘Ballygunge 1990’, directed by Atul Satya Koushik. Pixabay

“In my student days, we performed at National School of Drama (NSD) auditorium in first and second year, then Shri Ram Centre or Kamani Auditorium in third year. Now, in professional theatre, people are buying tickets for you and that’s really exciting for an actor,” Annup told IANS over telephone.

He also credited NSD, which he joined 25-odd years back, as having taught him discipline and basics of acting.

“I personally feel theatre is a good foundation to start with; it prepares you so extensively to handle any character. Having said that, it’s not that if you’re not grounded in theatre, you cannot be a good actor.”

Annup describes ‘Ballygunge 1990’ as the “revenge story” of a relationship, where his character abandons a lover for ambition and returns years later after failing. The suspense-genre play is in Hindi.

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The Mumbai-based artiste has dabbled into multiple mediums, and feels passionately about the “craft of acting”.

He is returning to ‘Crime Patrol’ after a break of 15 months — in a new bearded avatar that is garnering much appreciation.

On why he took a sabbatical from the show, Annup said: “The structure of our shooting was such that I was not getting time to commit to acting assignments properly. I feel I’m an actor first, then an anchor. Now, we’ve restructured and allotted limited days to ‘Crime Patrol’. This arrangement suits both the makers and me.

Mandi House, Rich, Music
Annup Sonii, who once basked in the cultural glory of Delhi’s Mandi House and performed in its popular auditoriums as a drama student, finds it thrilling to act in the area as a professional actor now. Pixabay

“In these 15 months, I did three films and three web-series in never-seen-before roles,” he explained, adding these projects will release in this year’s last quarter.

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He will also be seen acting alongside Sanjay Dutt in the Hindi remake of Telugu film ‘Prasthanam’. (IANS)