Afghanistan’s youth orchestra strikes positive notes

31 Jan 2013

Afghanistan’s youth orchestra strikes positive notes

KABUL - The auditorium hall echoed with stormy applauses and the audience gave a standing ovation to the young symphonic orchestra of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) for spreading the love of music during the celebration of its Third Winter Academy, in Kabul, last night.

Dressed in colourful outfits, the 62-member orchestra enthralled its audience with melody of both eastern and western music — using a variety of traditional Afghan and modern western instruments including Ghichak, Dilruba, Rubab, Tabla, Sitar, Sarod, Guitar, Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Violin, Viola, Oboe and Trumpet.

Speaking at the opening of the show titled “Improving Lives with Education and Music”, the Deputy Minister for Education, Mohammad Asif Nang said that 200 students from different provinces of the country took part in the eight-week long programme of ANIM’s third Winter Academy under the guidance of expert music teachers from Afghanistan and abroad.

“Our aim is to creating cultural and conceptual dialogue through promotion of music and to portray a golden and colourful page of Afghan culture to the world,” said Mr. Nang.

The show was also a preparatory exercise for the orchestra for its upcoming two-week visit to the United States, where they will perform in the world famous Kennedy Centre and Carnegie Hall alongside other important shows.

The ANIM orchestra also performed at a UNAMA ceremony organized to mark the International Day of Peace, in Kabul, in September 2012.

All arrangements have been finalized for 62 students of ANIM — boys and girls – to travel to the US with the aim to reflect positive changes in Afghanistan during the last ten years.

“A country where music was banned 10 years ago, now has biggest symphonic orchestra, which is going to perform in the prominent halls of the world such as Kennedy Centre and Carnegie Hall,” said Dr. Ahmed Naser Sarmast, the Founder and Director of ANIM.

The orchestra is also scheduled to perform at the headquarters of World Bank, Fordham High School for the Arts and counterparts with youth orchestra in Maryland and New York.

The tour has been sponsored by the United States Embassy in Afghanistan, World Bank, Carnegie Corporation, the Afghan Ministry of Education and the Council of American Culture in Asia.

Speaking at the opening of the Third Winter Academy of ANIM, James B. Cunningham, the US Ambassador for Afghanistan, said that the upcoming tour was a representative of the “hard work, success, friendship and partnership”.

“American audience will have the chance to learn about Afghanistan’s unique musical heritage,” said Mr. Cunningham.

He said that the institute growth was another assurance that “tomorrow Afghanistan will be better.”

A wave of excitement could be visibly witnessed among the boys and girls of the orchestra for their upcoming visit. For many of them, this is their first visit outside Afghanistan, let alone perform for an international audience.

“I am very excited about this trip. I am travelling for music to demonstrate our capability in music to the American people and also to learn from their experience,” said Mohammad Elham, a saxophone player in the orchestra.

By UNAMA Kabul

View some of the photos of the ANIM performance in Kabul