I hope to get the chance to hear Sophie Le Ray talk about empowering women in the Arab world. My own experience of the women in the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq confirmed that, for those whose ambitions haven’t been thwarted, there is clear potential for leadership and a wisdom that knows how to work around the problems we have today.
Which book has inspired you the most?
Elizabeth Wilde McKormick’s Living on the Edge: Breaking Up to Break Down to Break Through. This book impressed me as a musician in my 20s, when there was no guidance as to how to ride my artistic edge without falling off. I trust lived over received wisdom, which is a strong theme in my own book, but having re-read Living on the Edge recently, I really appreciated the new ways it spoke to me as a man in a different phase of life.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Forget to meditate.
What is your life’s motto?
Stand up for yourself, treat yourself and others with compassion and stop wasting time and energy waiting for things to happen for you.
Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable?
A car journey when I was 5; Dad and I were listening to a classical pianist on the radio and I told him I wanted to do that. A bus journey with my school orchestra when I was 17, which dramatically initiated my life as a young man. A plane journey to Chicago when I was a 19 year old exchange student, to an America that no longer exists. A bus journey from the Mirako Hotel to the Palace of Arts in Suleymaniyah, which began my life as the Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.