Youth orchestra’s U.S. tour shows more hopeful side of Afghanistan

Posted on: January 18, 2013

In an Associated Press report posted Thursday (1/17) on the WQXR site, Denis D. Gray writes, “Not so long ago Fakira roamed the mean streets of the Afghan capital, hawking magazines for 13 U.S. cents apiece to support her poverty-stricken family.  Next month, the 15-year-old cellist appears in America’s most prestigious concert halls, performing alongside other former street children and orphans of Afghanistan’s decades of violence. … The teenager, who uses only one name like many Afghans, will be playing in the Afghan Youth Orchestra, which on Feb. 3 begins a 12-day U.S. tour that includes concerts at Washington’s Kennedy Center—President Barack Obama has been invited—New York’s Carnegie Hall and the New England Conservatory in Boston. ‘Most reports about Afghanistan are about suicide bombings, killings, destruction, corruption, (depicting) Afghanistan as a place where hope has died,’ says Ahmad Sarmast, who leads the youth orchestra. He says the young musicians will try ‘to show a different Afghanistan, an Afghanistan where hope is alive.’ … The orchestra is the centerpiece of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, which Sarmast founded 2 ½ years ago. … One program item, titled ‘Four Seasons in Afghanistan,’ fuses Antonio Vivaldi’s popular concertos with Afghan melodies played on traditional instruments. It’s the handiwork of William Harvey, of Indianapolis, Indiana, a violinist and graduate of New York’s eminent Juilliard School who serves as the institute’s principal conductor.”

Posted January 18, 2013