Musical diplomacy

2013-02-14 04.41.14This week has been defined by the two concerts I attended of the Afghan Institute of Music (ANIM). Wednesday evening’s concert attracted friends from Maine who drove 4 hours and got their just in time to get a seat and relax. Getting lost in Boston would require either a stiff drink or better, a concert by American and Afghan kids who have a love for music in common.

Anyone with a bit of an Afghan connection seemed to be there, in the basement of the New England Conservatory. We sat around tables while the orchestra members sat on chairs or on carpets on a podium in their midst. The American kids were dressed in orchestra black and grey while the Afghan kids were dressed in colorful and/or embroidered tunics and dresses, the girls with scarves in the colors of the Afghan flag (black, red and green).

One of the many highlights was the adaptation of Ravel’s Bolero for Indo-Afghan instruments. Extraordinary! Our friends from Maine, also SOLA parents, joined us for an after-concert dinner at Ariana, sampling mantu, aushak, burani, kaddo, dupiazza and qabuli rice. They stayed overnight at our house before making the long trek home on Thursday.

Once I realized that the Wednesday concert was only an appetizer for a longer concert the next day, I showed up again. The Thursday concert was less colorfull (dress-wise only) and showcased more individual talent. It ended with a joyful singalong featuring Bob Marley and an old eastern European kletzmer song that I remember from my girl scout days. Funny that that was the song the Afghan kids taught their American counterparts. It shows that music knows, although sometimes composed and used for nationalistic and ideological purposes, can be a joyful medium for bringing together people who are ignorant of such roots and simply enjoy the act of singing and listening.

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