Iraq day 3 – Erbil

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Last night didn’t finish with the diary. After writing the article, we went to the “Bar” (room 210) for a beer and a chat with the tutoring team and ended the day at about 3 am after listening to renditions of Haydn Opus 20 string quartets from the strings tutors (with flute as second violin) which went on until 4:30am. Quite a few of the students were up for this and even though it was a read through of the quartets, the intensity of the concentration on their faces was fascinating.

Today was a day off for the orchestra. Having a day off though does nothing to dampen the motivation for practise, it just makes it a little less formal. We spent the afternoon at the parks in central Erbil. These parks are built on the site of a historic mosque of which only a single massive minaret is left. The two parks are connected by cable-car, so of course the whole orchestra had to go across for a ride. On the way, Cam and I travelled by car so we could get some external shots of “party-bus” activity. It was quite refreshing to be able to walk in the dark through a huge city park alongside so many other people – young and old – and not feel apprehensive or uncomfortable in any way.

On the return journey, I discussed with one of the translators how Erbil had changed since the invasion in 2003. It was fascinating to hear how much investment has poured into the region and how much the infrastructure has been developed over the past few years – and continues to develop. Even with Erbil’s historic past, much of the city is new and it is still growing and expanding. The city has a very relaxed feel about it.

The students party like nothing I have ever seen – and I have seen some pretty awesome partying in my time. The second the dance CD is playing in the bus, they are up and dancing – the rear axle joining in by squeaking as they drive down the road.

After we got back to the hotel, we were treated to an impromptu performance on the Arabic and Kurdish Zithers, accompanied by some amazing strings and wind playing. After the zithers the dancing and drums came and once more bedtime at 2am.

Today was a day off for the orchestra. Having a day off though does nothing to dampen the motivation for practise, it just makes it a little less formal. We spent the afternoon at the parks in central Erbil. These parks are built on the site of a historic mosque of which only a single massive minaret is left. The two parks are connected by cable-car, so of course the whole orchestra had to go across for a ride. On the way, Cam and I travelled by car so we could get some external shots of “party-bus” activity. It was quite refreshing to be able to walk in the dark through a huge city park alongside so many other people – young and old – and not feel apprehensive or uncomfortable in any way.

On the return journey, I discussed with one of the translators how Erbil had changed since the invasion in 2003. It was fascinating to hear how much investment has poured into the region and how much the infrastructure has been developed over the past few years – and continues to develop. Even with Erbil’s historic past, much of the city is new and it is still growing and expanding. The city has a very relaxed feel about it.

The students party like nothing I have ever seen – and I have seen some pretty awesome partying in my time. The second the dance CD is playing in the bus, they are up and dancing – the rear axle joining in by squeaking as they drive down the road.

After we got back to the hotel, we were treated to an impromptu performance on the Arabic and Kurdish Zithers, accompanied by some amazing strings and wind playing. After the zithers the dancing and drums came and once more bedtime at 2am.

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