The Violinist of Mosul

Listening to Ameen ‘Hope Maker’ Mokdad’s compositions, recorded and sent out to the world on social media from war torn Mosul, is a little like discovering a message in a bottle that has drifted in hope from the survivor of a catastrophe, stranded on distant lands.

He, however, says that he did not think of an audience when he played. The recordings you’ll find were created with the violins, cello and guitars that he named his sons. They were taken from him by Isil.

For anyone who has not read Josie Ensor’s moving article in the Telegraph, in the summer of 2014 when Isil took Mosul, one of the many lives inexplicably changed was that of musician, Ameen Mokdad. Overnight, music was outlawed, his creative release punishable by death.

He played in secret until the day Isil’s morality police confiscated his instruments and music. Fearing for his life, he fled to his cousin’s house in another town where he used his imagination to create music, built an Adad out of wood and old guitar strings and wrote novels.

Six months later, Iraqi troops arrived and Ameen could play music again.

“I feel life, more than life when I play,” he said.

 Where did you find inspiration?  AM: My inspirations came from everything. Sometimes it came from a kid or a word. Any one can inspire me.

 Why risk playing when there was a chance you could have been caught? 

AM: I used to live a free minded human so it’s so hard to stop. I can’t stop ever just ‘cause I am Ameen, the Hope Maker. I did not ever consider giving it up… my punishment is the stopping.

 When you sit down to create music, what do you want to achieve? 

AM: Really, I create music when she calls me to create her. I don’t know really, all I know is trying to be Ameen. When it starts to make my heart have a deep move it’s like fear or love I think.

 What drew you to the instruments you play in the first place? 

AM: I think it’s an old story that my father told me when I was ten years old. It’s about one of Beethoven compositions. He told me that Beethoven died before he finished that one. I know after 18 years that there’s no story like that about Beethoven. It’s about Chopin, I think. So the thing was when I was a kid and I knew that story I told my father that I will finish that composition when I become a composer.

 I read that you are also a novelist. What do you write about? 

AM: My novels are about my life and all life, I think, and a love of being a hope maker.

 If you had to pick three favourite songs, what would they be and why? 

AM: Viggio , Hope in god , Ween, ‘cause they’re my songs.

 What’s next? 

AM: Being a great composer and being rich also.

 Are you still saving money for a violin? 

AM: I couldn’t live real life without a violin so I took one with all I have. It’s $75 and it’s from China… but I must love him, ‘cause he is my new son.