Afghanistan National Institute musicians perform with Yo-Yo Ma in Portugal, where they have been granted asylum

Posted on: March 31, 2022

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma with violist Luis Fernandes (left), bassist Eduardo Santos, and cellist Mohammad Sami (right), from Afghanistan, at the National Conservatory in Lisbon, March 29, 2022. Photo: Armando Franca

“Cellist Yo-Yo Ma joined refugees from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on Tuesday for a performance of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” writes Helena Alves in Tuesday’s (3/29) Associated Press. “Ma joined young Afghan and Portuguese musicians … at the National Conservatory, where the refugees who arrived last December are studying…. Portugal granted asylum to a 273-person group, including some 150 students, from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music as they fled Afghanistan in the wake of a Taliban takeover last August…. ‘The process of integration of our community is going very smoothly here,’ Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, the founder and head of Afghanistan National Institute of Music, said…. Ma and Sarmast exchanged high-fives with the students, some of whom also played traditional instruments of Afghanistan, after the Mozart recital. Marzia Anwari, a teenage musician from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, said Ma was approachable and put her at ease. ‘He is very, very nice,’ she said. ‘I’m so happy right now.’ The plan is to recreate the institute in Portugal, allowing the students to continue their education, as part of a wider Lisbon-based center for Afghan culture that will welcome exiles.”