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    Afghanistan sole music academy on historic US tour

    WASHINGTON (PAN): Breaking new ground, Afghanistan’s only music academy begins its historic tour of the United States this week, with concerts plannned at ancient Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

    The concerts by the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), the nation’s sole music academy, founded and directed by Ahmad Sarmast, the first Afghan with a doctorate in music, will start from February 2 to 17.

    These concerts will feature the Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO) and other ANIM ensembles performing orchestral and chamber music on both Western and traditional instruments; collaborations with their contemporaries from American youth orchestras; and guest appearances by award-winning Russian violinist Mikhail Simonyan.

    Funded by the US Embassy in Kabul, the World Bank, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, the tour will showcase the extraordinary success of ANIM.

    In a statement, the State Department said the Afghan National Institute of Music reflects a modern Afghanistan, in which the musical traditions of East and West come together in the hands of gifted teachers and students.

    The young men and women who study at the Afghan National Institute of Music study a variety of instruments, including the tabla, the rubab and the violin. They study the music of Afghan composers and international composers from Ustad Mohammed Umar to Duke Ellington.

    Founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, ANIM is both a source and a symbol of Afghanistan’s progress, exemplifying the restoration of Afghanistan’s rich culture in a country where the Taliban had repressed all forms of musical expression, the State Department said. “Many of the teachers at the Institute are private American citizens who have chosen to live in Kabul in order to bring the gift of music to these young children,” it said.

    According the Afghan Embassy in US, at the upcoming Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall concerts, ANIM will be represented by the AYO, conducted by ANIM violin teacher William Harvey, and three smaller ensembles: the Young Afghan Traditional Ensemble, led by ANIM Principal and ghichak teacher Muhammad Murad Sarkhosh; the Sitar and Sarod Ensemble, led by ANIM sitar/sarod teacher Irfan Muhammad Khan; and the Chamber Wind Ensemble, led by ANIM brass teacher James Herzog.

    Joined by Afghan and expatriate faculty members, including percussion teacher Norma Ferreira, cello teacher Avery Waite, piano/oboe teacher Allegra Boggess, and saxophone teacher Derek Beckvold, the performers will be drawn from the institute’s students, who are Afghans between 10 and 21 years of age, it said.

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