“Zohra, Afghanistan’s first and only all women orchestra, has won the 2017 Freemuse Award,” reads an unsigned Tuesday (1/24) article at MusicalAmerica.com (subscription required). “Freemuse defines itself as an independent international membership organization advocating and defending freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. Zohra is a product of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, founded in 2010 by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast…. Zohra’s members are being honored ‘for their role as the first women in the families, community, and country of the ANIM to learn music in over 30 years. With exceptional courage and dedication these young women are breaking new ground,’ … said the Freemuse press release. Negin Khapalwak, leader of the 40-piece orchestra, will accept the award on Wednesday during Zohra’s concert in Geneva. The group recently performed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ‘Zohra is a small miracle,’ said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov…. The Taliban has banned music in Afghanistan over the last several decades, not to mention quashing women’s rights. Negin Khapalwak, who lives in an orphanage in Kabul, has said that she cannot go home to her village, for fear that her brothers and uncles will beat her for the work she does.”

Posted January 26, 2017