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Freemuse Award 2017: Zohra – The Afghan Women’s Orchestra

Zohra, 2017 Freemuse Award winner, is the first & only all women orchestra in Afghanistan & are the first women to learn music in the country in 30+ years.
Conductor Negin Khpalwak

 

Zohra, the winner of the Freemuse Award 2017, is the first and only all women orchestra in Afghanistan. They are students at the National Institute of Music (ANIM) and the first women in their families, community and country to learn music in over 30 years.

“With exceptional courage and dedication these young women are breaking new ground and have become important role models for any Afghan welcoming the return of music and the rights to exercise and take part in cultural life.” – Freemuse Award Motivation

Afghanistan’s musical scene suffered enormously in the last decades of the 20th century due to war, exile of musicians, and the draconian policies of the Taliban banning music entirely. Additionally, the extremist policies of the Taliban in regards to women’s rights dealt a huge blow to the education, employment and social rights of Afghan girls and women.

Moved by the critical state of music, musicians, music education and women in his native country, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, a visionary and the first Afghan to obtain a doctorate in music, initiated a groundbreaking project to revive and promote musical education in Afghanistan, which led to the establishing of ANIM in 2010.

“Zohra is a small miracle,” says Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov. “By giving the award to Zohra, Freemuse is also acknowledging the ground-breaking work of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music founded by Dr Ahmad Sarmast.”

One of ANIM’s primary commitments is to empower girls through music. Today 65 out of 200 students are girls aged between 14 to 20 years.

The Freemuse Award is given to an individual or an organisation that “has worked for freedom of musical expression in a remarkable way”.

The Freemuse Award was presented at a concert with Zohra in Geneva on Wednesday 25 January 2017 by Freemuse co-founder Marie Korpe.

» Click here to read more about and see photos and videos from the concert and award ceremony 

 

Zohra, 2017 Freemuse Award winner, is the first & only all women orchestra in Afghanistan & are the first women to learn music in the country in 30+ years.
Zohra – The Afghan Women’s Orchestra


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