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In a dusty Baghdad dance studio, conductor Mohammad Amin Ezzat tries to fire up the musicians of Iraq's National Symphony Orchestra, whose enthusiasm has been dampened by eight months without pay.The ensemble has lost more than half its members since the start of the year, when the government issued a directive barring state employees with two jobs from receiving two salaries.The anti-corruption measure was suggested by the World Bank and should affect only about a third of the orchestra's musicians, but because of delays in carrying out the reform wages have been withheld from the entire group.Officially created in 1970 after several unsuccessful attempts, Iraq's national orchestra has survived decades of upheaval.When all its salaries are tallied up – including the maestro's $1,200 a month, peanuts for a major conductor – the orchestra costs the state about $85,000 a year.Because of the directive, the 57-year-old practitioner, who teaches at Baghdad's al-Nahrain University and plays in the national orchestra, is now entitled to only one salary.
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