Ahmed Mukhtar’s Welcoming Speech

3 December 2008

ahmed wn

Welcome to you all Ahla Wasahlan in attending this event at the Brunei Theatre of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

We are celebrating today the 100th anniversary of birth of Saleh Alkuwaity, the great Iraqi musician and composer. We commemorate him as of a person of artistic value not as Iraqi or Kuwaiti but as of great human value who managed with his rich compositions to establish some very memorable music in the area and in particular for the Iraqi people where all the Iraqis tend to sing his songs and are still attached to his classical compositions. The genius of Saleh Alkuwaity was distinguished in the first half of the twentieth century and he varied his melodies to be in agreement with most of the voices of singers whether male or female, which in itself an attestation to his many musical abilities is. He was a man of vast musical productions as he presented hundreds of songs as they come to his mind. He was preparing more than 5 songs a year for every singer, though there were lots of them with different characteristics. He created new styles of Iraqi Maqam music and freed the Maqam from its restrictions and mixed some of it with urban music. He was distinguished in the Modeleshin style which involved improvising the Maqam and coordinating with harmony. With his brother Daoud, who was a singer and a Oud player, influenced the music in Iraq and together they founded the Broadcasting Ensemble.

Today we are celebrating this humanitarian artistic value and let me welcome you in the name of the team workers and organisers of this celebration which idea was the birth child of our friend Linda Menuhin. I seized upon the chance of taking the responsibility for organising the event as soon as she suggested that to me; however financial considerations prevented us from doing so and we were faced with failing to organise the event but for the kind assistance of a friend who does not want his name to be mentioned, and who gave us the encouragement to proceed with the project. We therefore started once more, despite the continued financial difficulties, and we are once more, undertaking to do this celebration with the support of good people.

I cannot but express my deep gratitude and thanks to SOAS for their kind offer of facilities and theatre. SOAS is the main sponsor for this celebration. I would also like to thank all the contributors and attendees and wish you all success.


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