Iraqi cellist and conductor Karim Wasfi tried to bring beauty to the site of a deadly car bombing with an impromptu and haunting cello solo amid the scorched rubble.
Wasfi, the previous director of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, told the BBC that he wanted to express his defiance at the violence that has gripped Iraq for years with no apparent end in sight.
Iraqi musician Karim Wasfi performs at terrorist explosion site in Baghdad; melody of life survives bigotry & death pic.twitter.com/pczLv54mp7— Barham Salih (@BarhamSalih) April 28, 2015
He also said he believes that music holds the power of creation, in contrast with the deadly destruction of terrorism.
The musician told Al Arabiya that as he sat on a lone chair in the middle of the street and played his piece – appropriately titled “Baghdad Melancholy” — passersby were deeply moved, given what had happened there just hours before.
“They felt like spiritual beings hovering around, almost united with those who lost their lives,” Wasfi said. “It was a weird mix of living souls and those who hovering souls after leaving their body in the area.”
His feeling was echoed by an Iraqi man who posted his thoughts on Twitter.
“He is playing music for the souls of the people who died just a few hours ago. I can imagine them listening, too, and wondering: Why?” the unidentified man wrote, according to the website 7Days in Dubai.
In the backdrop of his performance, it's possible to hear the sound of broken glass being swept up.
A series of car bombs targeted Baghdad’s busy commercial areas Monday, killing at least 20 civilians, according to Iraqi officials quoted by the Associated Press.
The maestro said that music plays a special role in that “when things are abnormal, we make things normal; we make things worth living for.”
“People think music is about entertainment but I think music is way, way beyond that. I think it has to do with creation,” Wasfi said.
Video of his performance has gone viral on Iraqi social media and beyond.