Sandstone Press

Upbeat selected as The Bookseller's Book of the Month

Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq by Paul MacAlindin has been selected for The Bookseller's Book of the Month for August.

'How do you pull together an orchestra of young musicians, consisting of both Arabs and Kurds (uneasy neighbours at the best of times); many of whom are self-taught, many of whom lack proper instruments (or ones that buckle in the heat) and all of whom bear the scars of tyranny and war… and still make beautiful music? Paul MacAlindin had a love of music from an early age which helped him through a turbulent childhood. As a musician, dancer and all round performer, he found his true métier in conducting, and has worked with orchestras and ensembles all over the world. However, his biggest challenge came when he agreed to be musical director of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq after picking up details of an appeal from a talented 17-year-old pianist called Zuhal Sultan, while eating fish and chips in an Edinburgh pub. Overcoming huge obstacles—logistical, political, financial, cultural and emotional—he and his young musicians, many of whom grew up hiding their instruments and practising in secret for fear of persecution, eventually performed not only in Iraq, but also in Britain, Germany and France, providing a beacon of hope for their damaged country, before it all fell apart due to ISIS. It’s an amazing and deeply inspiring story which will be a BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” on publication.'


The Sunday Times also covered the story of the 'bravest orchestra in the world' last weekend. You can read the feature here.

Upbeat: The Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq will be released on the 18th of August in Royal Jacket Hardback, £19.99.