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Paul MacAlindin

Events for Paul MacAlindin
Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

Event 174 Friday 3 March, 3pm-4pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“I moved from heat to cold, from the Third World to the First… I also moved from a religious Muslim culture to a secular one and that move was the most disturbing of all, the trauma that no amount of time could cure, an eternal culture shock.” – Leila Aboulela

What do you gain and what do you lose when you leave everything that you know behind and embrace life in a new environment? For the authors in today’s panel, this is a constant question, as each has had to redefine themselves in the face of a new culture.

Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum but moved to Aberdeen with her husband and children, a relocation that inspired her first novel, The Translator. Her journey has also seen detours to London, Jakarta, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Paul MacAlindin is from Scotland, but his work as a conductor has taken him around the world – most notably to Iraq, a country he knew next to nothing about when he took on the project of helping young musicians found the National Youth Orchestra.

Language: English

Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

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Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

Event 179 Monday 6 March, 7.30pm-8.30pm Al Rimal, InterContinental

“Culture is not an added extra. It’s not a nice middle-class thing to have. It’s absolutely fundamentally essential.” – Paul MacAlindin

In the summer of 2008, Paul MacAlindin read an article that would change his life – and the cultural scene in Iraq. 17-year-old pianist Zahel Sultan was on the search for a conductor to help form a national youth orchestra for Iraq; MacAlindin, who had just returned from high-profile jobs in Armenia, the US and New Zealand, jumped at the chance to do something different.

In his book Upbeat, MacAlindin tells the story of what followed: the hunt for musicians, the red tape of permissions, and above all, the fight to bring joy to the music of traumatised children.

MacAlindin’s moving – sometimes devastating – story is about a group of people defying our recent history to find happiness.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

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