News / Asia

Orchestra Comprised of Afghan Street-Children Concludes US Tour

Orchestra Comprised of Afghan Street-children Concludes US Touri
X
February 16, 2013 3:42 AM
After travelling more than 10,000 kilometers in two weeks, the Afghan Youth Orchestra is heading back to Kabul - following performances in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. Hailing the group as 'ambassadors of peace,' Secretary of State John Kerry said the young people used music to show the positive changes made in Afghanistan over the last 10 years. Now they are going home. VOA’s Brian Allen has more from Boston.
Orchestra Comprised of Afghan Street-children Concludes US Tour
Brian Allen
After travelling more than 10,000 kilometers in two weeks, the Afghan Youth Orchestra is heading back to Kabul - following performances in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. Hailing the group as “ambassadors of peace,” Secretary of State John Kerry said the young people used music to show the positive changes made in Afghanistan over the last 10 years. Now they are going home.

This is Boléro. It is an orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel, first performed at the Paris Opera in 1928. The composition is played here by Afghan students in Boston, Massachusetts. Classical violins and trumpets sound alongside a rubab and a sitar.

The Afghan Youth Orchestra performed this famous piece at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York City, and here at the New England Conservatory in Boston. This was their last stop on a tour of the United States, funded largely by the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Triumphant youth

The young musicians are mostly former orphans and street-children, born in a country that saw the Taliban forbid the performance of music outright when they took control of Afghanistan in 1996.

Negeen is from Kunar province, a volatile spot in the eastern part of the country. She has had first-hand experience with the Taliban.

“My younger brother-in-law, who is in his 20s, took me back to Kunar province for a few days. The Taliban forced him to get out of the bus and then asked him “why did you shave your beard? What kind of Muslim you are?” Then they whipped him so badly that his back and hands were bleeding. That is one of my worst memories in my life,” she said.

Today, the children are off the street, music is played freely in their country, and the Afghan Youth Orchestra is finishing up a tour of some of the most famous American musical venues. Negeen will have fond memories of the trip.

“When we came to New York City, we saw tall buildings. We were trying to look at them to see their tops, but the floors were endless. They were so tall! New York is beautiful. All three cities we visited are beautiful, but I liked New York the most,” said Negeen.

Championing life, art

Ahmad Sarmast is the man responsible for this musical development. In 2009, he founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, and ultimately the Afghan Youth Orchestra.

“It is a great pleasure for me that a group of Afghan youth, including boys and girls, has accomplished such big achievements in music in so short period of time, and today they are here in the United States as ambassadors of Afghan culture to reflect those positive changes which happened to Afghanistan in the last 10 years with their music," said Sarmast.

Another student, Gulalai, is thankful for the Orchestra's influence on her life.

“Looking at my past and then looking at my current situation, I can say that my life is very changed now. I mean, I have had a great improvement in my life. Music brought many changes to my life,” said Gulalai.

With the tour almost over, the students will return to their school in Kabul. They will return to a life that was not possible just a few short years ago - with memories of a trip they never could have dreamed of under the Taliban.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More