On 11 March 2009 the intrepid travellers Andy Lowings and
Jennifer Sturdy set off from London Heathrow to Washington DC with the Gold Lyre
of Ur. United Airlines were extremely interested and helpful: halfway across the
Atlantic there was a message from the pilot, " we have your important cargo safely
And so it continued, with support and help
from friends in Clifton, Virginia, and the sponsorship of Dr Hadi Al Khalili,
the Iraqi Cultural Attache.
There were two performances at the Rasmusson Theatre,
in the American Indian Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. This is a very modern,
state-of-the-art performance venue, with excellent sound and lighting facilities.
It seats around 330 people, and on Saturday 14 March there was a full house. The
audience was mainly delegates from an Iraqi-American conference: they knew all
about the Gold Lyre of Ur, and clustered round excitedly at the end to have their
photographs taken with it and to ask many questions about the making of it and
the performance, which had consisted of a brief introduction about the project,
given by Andy, then performances by Jennifer of translated Sumerian poetry, a
translated dialogue between Andy and Jennifer, and a reading of a poem in Arabic.
The latter was read by a lady well-known in Iraq as a newsreader on Iraqi television.
of the very significant members of the audience who introduced himself at the
end was Professor Donny George, formerly director of the Museum of Baghdad. He
was very positive about the entire project, which he has apparently followed keenly
since its inception. We too have followed his activities in working towards the
restoration of the antiquities of Iraq, so it was an exciting moment to meet face-to-face.
On Sunday 15 March there was a second concert at the Rasmusson Theatre, with an
invited audience from the Iraqi community in Washington DC and the immediate vicinity.
Once again, there was an enthusiastic reception. Andy and Jennifer were also interviewed
for Iraqi TV.
Thanks must go to Dr Al Khalili
and his team for making these events possible. We would very much like to return
to the USA in the future.