Year five for Afghanistan’s Zohra orchestra of women and girls

Posted on: March 18, 2019

“Five years ago, a unique all-female orchestra was formed in Afghanistan, a nation where only a few years previously music had been outlawed and women barred from education,” writes Vincent Dowd in Friday’s (3/15) (U.K.). “Now Zohra is visiting the UK for the first time.… There are around 100 female students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, 23 of whom have come to Britain. Their numbers will be doubled when they play in concert with the London-based Orchestra of St John’s and others. Instruments they’ve brought with them include the sarod, the rubab, tabla drums and the dutar. The music performed is a combination of traditional Afghan music and western classical…. The conductor for the Afghan pieces is Negin Khpalwak, who at 22 is one of the older musicians in the group…. Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey of the Orchestra of St John’s has arranged for University of Oxford students to mentor young musicians in Kabul—which until now has mainly been by Skype…. She says, … ‘It’s important that these girls and young women know they have a global support system. There are friends and a network which will support them as they assert their human rights.’ ”

Posted March 18, 2019

In photo: Musicians from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music’s Zohra orchestra of women and girls, with conductor Negin Khpalwak.