Afghanistan’s first youth orchestra set to take stage in US
From online dispatches
A group of musicians who are members of Afghanistan’s first youth orchestra are preparing to give a concert in the United States, Time.com has reported.
The project is the brainchild of two professionals, Afghan musician Ahmad Sarmsat, who has trained the young people at his music school in Afghanistan, and American director William Harvey.
The members of the orchestra, which consist of 52 musicians, are relatively new to orchestral music. The musicians’ performance combines Western classical music and Afghanistan’s own musical heritage, including traditional instruments such as the rubar, sitar, sarod, dilruba and ghichak.
“We want to use music as a source for social changes and a source for building bridges between Afghanistan and our friends outside of Afghanistan,” Sarmast said, according to Al Jazeera.
Music was banned in Afghanistan when the Taliban took power and musical instruments, cassette players and thousands of tapes were burned, while musicians faced 40 days in jail if they produced music. The bans were lifted after the Taliban fell in 2001.
Sarmsat, who received an education in Russia and Australia, opened the National Institute of Music in 2009 in order to reawaken the musical talents of people in the country. The school currently has around 150 students, including 35 female students.
“We have women’s rights, here we have children’s rights,” Fikria Azizi, a 12-year-old girl in the orchestra, told Al-Jazeera.