Afghanistan’s All-Female ensemble Zohra Orchestra set to tour Australia
Zohra Orchestra is an all-female ensemble from Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). It consists of young Afghan women ages 14 to 18, aiming to show Australia a different side of Afghanistan.
They are uplifting audiences during their tours and are creating dialogue with international communities.
The Taliban ban on music, issues of gender inequality and other social pressures have prevented the youth of Afghanistan from reaching their full potential in the arts space. However, people like the founder of ANIM, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, are working tirelessly to counter this.
Dr Sarmast was surrounded by music from childhood and is carrying on the legacy of his father in the world of music. Despite growing up an orphan, his father was the first Afghan to conduct a symphony orchestra.
For me, music has a transformative power that can enormously transform the lives of communities, countries and children.
“At ANIM, we are very much committed to gender equality. In less than 10 years we have achieved a rate of 30 percent female students,” he said.
Image: Dr Sarmast and some of the Orchestra members
In 2010, Dr Sarmast returned to his home country of Afghanistan and established the ANIM for disadvantaged children in Afghanistan.
“The reason I gave up everything in Australia and came back to Afghanistan was my strong belief in the soft power of music,” he explained.
“[We aim] to show the talent of the youth of Afghanistan and to show that they can sing the same song that the Australian people are singing. The song of equality.”
His Excellency, Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Australia has helped facilitate the Australian tour.
He speaks about the messages of empowerment that Zohra hopes to share through music.
They are feminists, they are intelligent and they are working at their capacities to represent Afghanistan.
The orchestra visit celebrates Afghan-Australian relations and the support received post 9/11.
Lead cellist, Meena, spoke about the power of music in inspiring other young women in Afghanistan and worldwide.
“It’s really important for ANIM and for us, to show girls that they can play music. Music is for everyone,” she said.
I want people to understand and know that girls are strong and girls can do everything.
Zohra Orchestra Australian Tour 2019
WHEN: Saturday October 12, 2019
WHERE: Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall
WHEN: Monday October 14, 2019
WHERE: Sydney Opera House
COST: From $30