The cellist of Baghdad: moving business beyond words

“Music opens up emotions in a non-threatening and accessible way.”

This is one of core beliefs, stated here on this website where we talk about the importance of emotional awareness in business.

Music allows us to connect with and resolve something deeper, when words and even logic fail us. For many of our clients, change is easier to handle, once the emotions around change and disruption are addressed and engaged.

A recent and more extreme example reminded us of this principle at work. When, after a short period of relative respite from ISIS in Baghdad, the city suffered renewed car bomb attacks, cellist, Karim Wasfi, took his instrument the next day, and sat among the shrapnel and debris of the explosion, and played what couldn’t be said.

He told the Washington Post “My house is just behind that main street, so it was very symbolic for me to wake up, grab my cello and walk to that spot, get my cello out of my case, sit by the rubble and the shrapnel and the whole scene of death and the scene of fire and the scene of human beings turning to ashes, and play.

“What happened was extraordinary,” he said. “Everybody — soldiers, officers, street cleaners, the workers who were fixing the shop — they all left what they were doing and gathered around and they were listening to this tune. They were kind enough to understand the importance of civility and beauty.”

When the dust has settled and been swept away, Wasfi will have helped his neighbourhood come to terms with an emotion that isn’t easily swept to one side, through music.