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A new life (abroad) for the Afghanistan Philharmonic Orchestra –

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From Viviana Mazza

Nearly 300 people arrive in Lisbon, after four months of attempts involving American and Portuguese politicians and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Afghan Orchestra She arrived the day before yesterday in Lisbon, her new home. The leader of the band, Najin Khpalwak, is the most famous of his music
You areThey were already evacuated to the United States immediately after Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15. After many ups and downs, 273 other people, including 150 female studentsFor the past two months, the families and teachers of the National Conservatory of Music in Kabul have finally been rescued, through five different flights that initially landed in Doha, Qatar. And On Monday they arrived in LisbonWhere they will get political asylum. This is the largest evacuation by an Afghan community since August.


Founder of the Institute Ahmed Sarmast, who was in Australia when Kabul fell, was on the runway at Doha airport waiting for the last flight to land a few days ago. Only then did he burst into tears. They did it. Tears of joy because he will now be able to give these young Afghan musicians the opportunity to continue their studies abroad. Tears of pain as his dream of keeping traditional and western music alive at home only lasted for a few years. On his mobile phone, Sarmast keeps pictures of a piano and guitar for the Conservatory torn to shreds; The Taliban denied ordering their destruction and asserted that they would protect the tools, but kept them under lock and key. Silence reigns now in the institute.

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Viola Marzia

The Taliban occupied the rooms in which boys and girls played the flute and the sitar, mixing western and oriental melodies, while Pop music ban Many artists were forced into hiding. On August 15, students like Marzia Anwari, 18-year-old violinist and conductor of the orchestra, fled, leaving their instruments behind in fear, because the two students were already in front of the institute.

Sarmast plan

Sarmast plan, which Founded this school in Kabul in 2010It’s time to recreate it in Portugal: be part of A larger center for Afghan culture Based in Lisbon. The 59-year-old musicologist, who was already in exile when the Taliban took control of the country between 1996 and 2001 and banned music, has gone to great lengths to allow his students and teachers to be evacuated. Although the Taliban did not issue an official edict as at the time, Sarmast explains that those families live in terror: some have burned their diplomas and destroyed tools for fear of inspection.

Fame and threats

The institute has become an icon, and the Flower Blossom Orchestra has performed all over the world. Fame has been accompanied by threats already in the past years; Sarmast himself was injured in an attack during a concert. The world of music contacted the State Department, Democratic and Republican parliamentarians in America, and politicians in Germany and Portugal. Nearly 300 members of the institute were due to leave by August, when the Americans still controlled Kabul airport, but on the day they got seats on a flight They failed to cross the Taliban checkpoint: A leader fell asleep and his subordinates refused to wake him. A few hours later, fearing a new ISIS attack Americans closed access to the airport. The Sarmast continued to knock on every door, among other things he addressed to cellist Yo-Yo Ma who had asked for help from Qatar in mid-September: thus began the long diplomatic tug of war with the Taliban with the bureaucratic nightmare of buying documents. . for hundreds of people. In Qatar, students received new tools that they compressed upon arrival in Lisbon. Marzia swears that the Taliban will not silence the Afghan people. impossible.

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December 14, 2021 (changed December 14, 2021 | 22:26)

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