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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid