• US hails Afghan musicians as "Ambassadors of Peace"

US hails Afghan musicians as "Ambassadors of Peace"

06 February 2013

A group of young Afghan musicians are hitting the headlines on their first-ever tour of the United States.

The youngsters - aged between 9 and 21 - are from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), the first school of its kind in the country.

The tour has received extensive coverage in the US media.  Newly-appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry dropped in to watch the musicians perform at the State Department, and dubbed them “ambassadors of peace”. 

Other high-profile appearances scheduled for their two week tour include Washington’s Kennedy Centre and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The youngsters will be playing both Western and traditional Afghan instruments.  They will also play alongside young American musicians from youth or school orchestras.

ANIM students receive a free education, both in music and other subjects.  The school focuses particularly on supporting some of the most disadvantaged in Afghan society – orphans and street vendors.  Students include youngsters from almost every province of Afghanistan and from different ethnic groups.

The American tour is being led by the school’s founder, Dr Ahmad Sarmast.  He won the 2009 David Chow Humanitarian Award for his “brave and selfless” efforts to rebuild and promote music education in Afghanistan, where music was banned under the Taliban.

Dr Sarmast studied music while living as a refugee in Australia, becoming the first Afghan to hold a doctorate in the subject.  In 2008 he returned to his homeland and began building the music school, which was inaugurated in 2010.

The school is supported by the Afghan Ministry of Education.

Photo courtesty of ANIM