Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dr. Sarmast's Music School

Ahmad Naser Sarmast
We learn from multiple sources of the continuing recovery of Ahmad Sarmast, the Afgahni / Australian musicologist and educator who was injured in a suicide attack in Kabul on 11 December 2014.

During a theatrical production (“Hearbeat: Silence After the Explosion”) of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, given in the auditorium of the Institut Français d'Afghanistan, a teenaged Taliban agent succeeded in gaining entry and detonating an explosive device. There were 15 injuries and one death, according to police reports; Sarmast sustained head and torso wounds from shrapnel and possible hearing loss. The institute is co-located with the historic Lycée Esteqlal, founded 1922.

Cathy Graham of the British Arts Council, as reported by Norman Lebrecht in his blog Slipped Disc, forwards an e-mail from Sarmast of 11 January: “In spite of everything, I am more resolved than ever to continue in the important work of making sure music, arts, and culture are available to all Afghan children and youth.  It is ever more clear to me the importance of education, and especially music education, in our society to combat extremism and give hope to vulnerable children.”

An Afghanistan Youth Orchestra from the National Institute of Music toured the US in February 2013 (see NY Times, 1 February 2013). In May 2013, Sarmast was named an International Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS tribute HERE). The school is the subject of a documentary film by Polly Watkins and Beth Frey (2012):

Ahmad Naser Sarmast holds the BA and MA in Music from the Moscow State Conservatory and the PhD from Monash University (2005), and is author of A Survey of the History of Music in Afghanistan (2009). That same year he established the ANIM in Kabul. ANIM biography HERE.

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