U.K.’s Oxford Philharmonic performs newly commissioned music by Afghan composers

Posted on: July 6, 2022

“The musicians of Afghanistan have again been silenced by the Taliban,” writes Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, a conducting fellow of the Oxford Philharmonic, in Monday’s (7/4) Guardian (U.K.).”I first visited the country in July 2018 to meet the members of the Afghan Women’s Orchestra at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, the specialist school set up in 2010 by Ahmad Sarmast and which—before its forced closure last July—had 350 students…. The country’s music traditions go back thousands of years and have flourished in dialogue with their Persian and Hindustani neighbors in the south and the people of the areas of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the north, as well as with European and American popular and classical music…. The world now has a new opportunity, however, to hear from those musicians forced into exile … at this summer’s Spitalfields festival in London…. I have co-curated the project with composer and pianist Arson Fahim…. The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, under my direction, will be joined by musicians playing traditional Afghan instruments to premiere newly commissioned works by eight Afghan composers [on July 5]…. For Afghan’s young musicians, orchestras offer an opportunity to spread a message of peace and hope at home and internationally.”