Afghanistan

Afghan national music institute falls silent as last members leave for Portugal

Afghan national music institute falls silent as last members leave for Portugal

Dr Ahmad Nasir Sarmast, the founder of the institution, said that to continue serving the music and culture, he will try to reorganise the members of the institute who fled Afghanistan.

PESHAWAR: The Afghan National Music Institute has formally closed its doors for music lovers as the last member of the institute has left the country for Portugal via Qatar.

Dr Ahmad Nasir Sarmast, the founder of the institution, said that to continue serving the music and culture, he will try to reorganise the members of the school who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. He said that it was impossible to continue teaching music in Kabul as the Taliban administration has closed the institute’s gates for its members and music lovers.

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When the Taliban regime ended in 2001, though Afghanistan was devastated, but Dr Ahmed Sarmast arrived in Kabul from Australia with a mission to revive the art of music in his country.  Sarmast had completed his PhD in music in Australia and returned to his country in 2010 to start the Afghan National Institute of Music. He got generous support from foreign governments and the World Bank also provided $2 million for the institute.

Germany provided five tons of musical instruments for the institute, including violins, pianos, guitars and clarinets. The students also learned to play traditional instruments like satar, rabab and sarood, however; the number of Tabla learners was the highest. At the time of the Taliban takeover, there were over 300 students enrolled at the institute.

Afghan national music institute falls silent as last members leave for Portugal

Within a short time, the school was a unique experience where homeless and orphaned children were also receiving music training with the aim of reviving the vibrant Afghanistan. The school created a women’s orchestra in 2015 under the name ‘Zahra’, the goddess of music in Persian literature.

The founder of the institute told Voice of America (VoA) that he was “heartbroken” by the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, saying that the takeover was so unexpected that it shocked everyone. The ToloNews has quoted the Taliban’s culture commission’s member Mujeeb Rahman Akhundzada as saying that the artists will only be allowed to sing Islamic poetry and religious topics. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, they imposed a complete ban on music and only allowed vocalisation for religious poetry.  

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