Texas Performing Arts Home
The University of Texas at Austin

Rahim AlHaj Letters from Iraq

more information  Know Before You Go

Rahim AlHaj​​​​

​​​Letters from Iraq

Oud and String Quintet

Presented in partnership with KMFA-FM

Born in Baghdad, Rahim Al Haj is a master of the oud—a stringed instrument with a history dating back 5,000 years. Music has been a constant in his life throughout his years as an Iraqi, a political refugee, and now an American citizen.

Created from the text of actual letters expressing the emotions of Iraqis living in their war-torn country, Letters from Iraq is a poignant telling through music of war, its aftermath and its consequences. These stories become more than an aural presentation. They are truly a virtual visual reality at the hand of Rahim and his quintet, each piece presenting a unique scenario, together weaving a complete tale of devastation, pain, redemption and, ultimately, hope.

View event program.

[Letters From Iraq] is quite elegant and strikingly beautiful at times, built as it is on a series of instrumental tone poems. But the true stories behind these compositions are chilling.


Rahim AlHaj NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert from NPR Music on YouTube.

Fun Facts:

  • Rahim AlHaj has been playing the oud since age nine. The oud is considered the grandfather of all string instruments.
  • In 2015, AlHaj was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, which is considered the highest honor for traditional arts in the US.
  • Rahim AlHaj is considered one of the finest oud players in the world and has received two Grammy nominations and released 12 albums.
  • AlHaj has performed with such varied musicians as jazz artist Bill Frisell, the string quartet Kronos Quartet, and the rock band REM.
  • The artist attended the Baghdad Conservatory of Fine Arts’ six-year program and received a degree in music composition.