In Afghanistan, a 17-year-old girl studying to be a conductor

Posted on: November 11, 2015

“For many years, the Taliban banned music and the education of girls in Afghanistan,” writes Shaimaa Khalil in Tuesday’s (11/10) BBC News magazine. But at Kabul’s Afghanistan National Institute of Music, “Female students have just finished their first concert … led by the country’s very first female conductor, 17-year-old Negin Khpolwak who is also a student here…. ‘I love practicing the piano,’ says Khpolwak. ‘All I want is to become a very good concert pianist and conductor, not only in Afghanistan, but in the world.’ … She comes from a poor family in Kunar province…. Negin’s mother was happy for her to go to school, but didn’t like the idea of her studying music…. This is a common problem, according to Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and director of the institute.… There’s also violence…. Last year, one of the student concerts organized outside the campus was targeted by a young suicide bomber—one person in the audience was killed while Sarmast’s hearing was damaged and eleven pieces of shrapnel lodged in his head.” Says Sarmast, “We are standing against violence and terror with our arts and culture, particularly with music…. Part of my inspiration is [Khpolwak] and students like her, who keep coming here despite the difficulties.”

Posted November 11, 2015