Artists will flourish once again in Aleppo
Gone are the days when anyone could talk about an “Arab Spring” and be taken seriously. The series of destabilisations (some uprisings, some invasions, some civil wars) have simply involved too much bloodshed to be considered a flourishing spring. The deterioration of Iraq and Syria, two central Arab states, cannot be referred to as an “Arab Awakening” either. The implication that the people of these nations, long ravaged by decades of war and bad governance, were asleep the whole time and have only now awakened is insulting. As a composer, I know that Iraq and Syria have been “awake” for millennia as the crucible of Arab (and indeed human) civilisation. It was in Baghdad that Al Kindi wrote the first serious treatises on musical composition that the world had seen since the Dark Ages engulfed Europe and the West. And it was Aleppo that gave Greater Syria and the greater Arab World one of the most vibrant traditions of classical music that humanity has ever witnessed. The Arab Troubles have wreaked heartbreaking destruction on Aleppo and Baghdad and considerable destabilisation on Cairo. Traditionally, these cities, together with Damascus and Beirut, have been the centres of Arab culture. It is worth exploring how the Troubles have affected the music and the arts of the Arab world in general and, for personal reasons, Aleppo in particular.