I am meeting today with Karim Wasfi, an extraordinary man from Iraq who shares my mission and that of Culture Saves – restoring hope and promoting peace through the arts.
A few months ago, I contacted Karim through an acquaintance on Facebook. I was surprised to get a quick response from someone of his stature! We agreed to meet on his next visit to the US.
Facebook rocks. Thanks Mark!
Karim Wasfi needs no introduction, but I’ll say a few words anyway. He is the renowned conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra and is known for his strength and courage in fighting for peace through music.
In April, just hours after a car bomb killed 19 people in Baghdad, Karim played his cello at the explosion site to honor the victims.
He was fighting bombs with music.
Karim was born in Cairo to Kanaan Wasfi, an Iraqi movie star and composer, and Egyptian pianist Halima Al Heniedi. Karim studied the cello at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London as a Lord Menuhin Scholar, and at Indiana University as an Eva Heinitz Cello Scholar.
At Indiana, Karim took conducting classes from some of the world's greatest conductors...including David Effron, Kurt Mazur, and the late Lorin Maazel.
Since returning to Iraq in 2004, Karim has tried to overcome the region's instability by restoring hope and peace through music. He has risen above the bombings, the ruins and the conflict by his heroic actions. Since 2007, Karim has recruited new musicians from varied backgrounds to the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. He has grown the orchestra from 52 musicians to a full membership of 126!
Karim founded the "Peace Through Arts Foundation" to offer hope. He reconciles young people from different backgrounds and ethnicities through classical music.
Karim uses his talent and stature to inspire people around the globe. He has become the symbol of hope and peace in Iraq.
I am happy to announce that Karim Wasfi and my organization, Culture Saves, are joining hands to restore hope and promote peace in areas of conflict through the arts…