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Angham Al-Rafidain Ensemble

Music from the cradle of civilization

Angham Al-Rafidain is a legendary band from Iraq that plays Al Maqam Al Iraqi, 400-year old melodies improvised on the basis of a given set of rules. Maqam is regarded as the inspirational source and predecessor to today’s Iraqi music, and groups such as Angham Al-Rafidain take their listeners on a musical journey back in time to Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization.

Angham Al-Rafidain is also known for their real-life journeys. From 2003 to 2007, cultural activities were banned by radical groups in Iraq, and many artists and intellectuals had to leave the country in order to continue their work. During this period, Angham Al-Rafidain lived involuntarily as nomads, travelling from country to country to play their traditional songs. When they visited Iraq, they had to perform unannounced in private venues.  After 2008, the government did an about-turn, and cultural expression was encouraged. Angham Al-Rafidain is now connected with the Iraqi cultural ministry and works to promote the country’s traditional musical heritage.

The group has performed around the world and received several music awards. In cooperation with Iraq’s embassy, we have invited them to perform for the first time ever in Oslo at Kulturkirken Jakob.

Before the concert we are arranging a conversation with Iraq’s ambassador to Norway, Ms Sundus Ali Omar Albayraqdar. She is the first female ambassador ever appointed from Iraq. She has an incredible life story that will be told this evening.

The conversation is led by journalist and author Åsne Seierstad. She has covered the Arab Spring for Norwegian Morgenbladet and international Newsweek. She was in Iraq in 2003 and wrote the book “101 days” about life in Baghdad before, during and after the invasion of Iraq that same year.


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