On Saturday, 15th Februar, the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman, will witness the performance of the Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO), which is part of the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM) and affiliated with the Ministry of Education. Sixty seven boys and girls, between the age of ten till twenty one, will showcase the rich Afghan traditional music besides Western classics. Instead of news about bomb blasts, the performance will bring a bomb blast of music and can change the view of the world to a country that suffered a lot. It brings me also to the rich history of the Afghan music.
On the website of ANIM one can read that music in Afghanistan clearly indicates that the country due to its central location was an important contributor to the reciprocal development of music with people of Central Asia, Persia, and the Indian subcontinent. The subsequent historical, cultural & religious developments such as Greek, pre-Islamic Buddhist, Islamic, Ghaznavid, Timurid, and Hindustani, further demonstrates the intercultural development of music in the region. This multicultural music thrived for centuries and held an extremely important place in the lives of Afghan people. From 1996 till 2010 the unfortunate discrimination against music and musicians took place.
ANIM‘s premier ensemble is the first orchestra to be founded in Afghanistan in 30 years. The Institute founded by Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast and with special focus on the most disadvantaged group in Afghan society – the orphans and street vendors – is challenged to become a model for future music schools and colleges to be built throughout Afghanistan. AYO, who has now 175 boys and girls aged ten to 21 years, founded and conducted by violin teacher William Harvey, who also arranges its repertoire, combines Afghan and Western instruments in a unique sound, with a repertoire of Afghan and Western Classical compositions. After performances in the country, after their famous tour in the USA in February 2013 and after the season finale of Afghan Star, the popular nationally televised singing contest, in 2012 and 2013, there is the performance in the Royal Opera House in Muscat.