Afghan Youth Orchestra: Breaking the Silence

Genre
Classical

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Breaking the Silence UK tour by a 45 member Afghan Youth Orchestra is an important debut series of a joint collaboration with soloists and ensembles here in the UK. There will be a number of performances, workshops and educational activities across England – in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. By collaborative works the young orchestra members can begin to heal their wounds and build strong bonds within and outside the Afghan Societies.

When children play in a musical ensemble they collaborate, listen, share and contribute. AYO’s ensembles are a microcosm of the future and we hope these concerts series shall help to achieve, such a vision.

Navigating a new country, far from one’s homeland, family, and the comforts of familiarity, presents unique challenges for refugees and migrants. Therefore, we have number of British musicians joining in to collaborate with the 45 member Afghan Youth Orchestra.

We recognise the significance of preserving cultural identities while fostering integration into a new. To accomplish this delicate balance, we have organised a variety of vibrant cultural concerts and events that celebrate heritage and nurture community bonds. These concerts will take at prestigious venues in London, Liverpool, Manchester & Birmingham

These concerts provide a safe and empowering space, for as cultural gatherings are designed to bring comfort and connection. Music events resonate with the rhythms of diverse backgrounds, uniting individuals through shared melodies and joyful rhythm.

The Afghan Youth Orchestra is one of the prime young orchestras, students learn the thrilling responsibility of playing in an orchestra for the first time. The orchestra consists of both boys and girls as they progress in their ensemble and orchestral skills together under the direction of the conductor, Maestro Tiago Da Silva.

In the AYO, there is an integrated group of Women musicians who perform as the “Ensemble Zohra” and is the first of its kind within this co-educational environment — a rarity in Afghanistan, until the Taliban came in— the young women of Zohra are defying the odds to attain an education, play music together, and are the first women in their families, communities, and country to learn music in over thirty years. The ensemble consists of over thirty female students from all grades. Initially a small chamber group, it soon grew into what is now a 25 member orchestra, comprised of both Western classical and traditional Afghan instruments including a harmonious mix of strings, woodwinds, piano and percussion, rubab, dutar, tambour, sitar, tabla, and qashqarcha, an instrument played mainly in north-eastern Afghanistan.

The Zohra Orchestra currently is led Constança Simas. She is also a professional conductor. She trains young Afghan girls conducting and prepares them to take over eventually.

This is an important step in providing opportunities for female musicians to unite in solidarity, deepen their commitment to music, and develop their skills as collaborative musicians. The current upcoming female conductors are mentored via Distance Learning Program partnership with Oxford’s Orchestra of St. Johns conductor, Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey.

Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO)

Afghan Youth Orchestra is the premier ensemble of Afghanistan National Institute of Music completed by Afghan traditional and Western musical instruments. The orchestra consists of 45 to 55 male and female young musicians aged between 14 and 20 and aims to preserve and promote the rich musical heritage of Afghanistan. The repertoire of AYO consists of Afghan traditional and folk songs as well as Western classical music.

AYO originally formed in 2010 and successfully represented Afghan music nationally and internationally in many prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Centre and Royal Opera House of Oman, in its current shape and make-up was reformed in 2022 in Portugal after the orchestra was forced into exile due to return of the Taliban into power. Afghan Youth Orchestra had its debut in exile in October 2022 at Gulbenkian Concert Hall, a concert that marked a triumphal return of ANIM after its shutdown in Afghanistan under Taliban repressive regime.

Since then, AYO has received invitations from various European cities. AYO has just successfully completed a concert tour of Geneva called Music from a Silent Land and in Germany “Sound of Freedom”. Highlights of this tour was a sold-out concert in prestigious Victoria Hall, performance in UN, Geneva and a joint concert with young Iranian and German musicians as part of the Beethoven Festival in Bonn.

Presented by SAMA

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