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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs