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Afghan Youth Orchestra Goes From Kabul to Broadway

  • Brian Allen

The Afghan Youth Orchestra, the first orchestra created in Afghanistan in over 30 years, is currently on a tour of the United States. The group is comprised mostly of children who grew up on the streets of Kabul. Now, they are on Broadway.

The young performers and instructors of the Afghan Youth Orchestra are used to snow in Kabul. And when a powerful storm dumped nearly 25 centimeters of the white powder on New York City, the second stop on the group's tour of the United States, it made them feel right at home.

While in the city that never sleeps, the young Afghans even got serenaded at a local diner where they sampled classic American food: cheeseburgers and fries.

The group travelled over 10,000 kilometers from Kabul to the United States, on a tour funded largely by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. The Taliban had banned the performance of music entirely when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Negeen, a member of the group from Kunar Province, said her favorite moment so far was a connection she made with the audience in Washington, D.C., earlier in the tour.

“A few minutes before the beginning of the concert, when we were sitting on the stage, there were Afghan women who were looking at us and weeping. It was so emotional, and I, myself, was almost weeping. I became so emotional in that moment.”

Others became emotional when they saw the bright lights of Times Square.

“I had seen New York City in pictures four or five years ago, and since then, I have been in love with New York,” said one member of the group in his native Dari adding these words in English: “I love New York.”

On Tuesday, the Afghan Youth Orchestra will perform in the world-famous Carnegie Hall.