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Afghanistan's Institute of Music

Music in Afghanistan is perhaps best known, particularly in the West, for falling silent under the Taliban. But since 2001, musicians within and outside the country have taken steps to revive Afghanistan's unique musical tradition. One of them is Ahmad Sarmast, who heads the National Institute of Music.


Ahmad Sarmast is the head of Afghanistan's National Institute of Music. He survived a suicide attack at the French Cultural Center in Kabul last year. 
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Ahmad Sarmast is the head of Afghanistan's National Institute of Music. He survived a suicide attack at the French Cultural Center in Kabul last year. 

The institute ​instructs some 210 students from their first note through their graduation as seasoned musicians.
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The institute ​instructs some 210 students from their first note through their graduation as seasoned musicians.

Negin Khalpak, 14, conducts around 35 students in the institute's orchestra.
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Negin Khalpak, 14, conducts around 35 students in the institute's orchestra.

The students can choose their own path -- either Western classical or Afghan traditional music. 
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The students can choose their own path -- either Western classical or Afghan traditional music. 

All the students receive full scholarships to attend the institute. After completing their studies, graduates are awarded internationally recognized music diplomas.
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All the students receive full scholarships to attend the institute. After completing their studies, graduates are awarded internationally recognized music diplomas.

Former street children, orphans, and girls -- who face many obstacles in Afghanistan's patriarchal and culturally conservative society -- make up half of the student body.
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Former street children, orphans, and girls -- who face many obstacles in Afghanistan's patriarchal and culturally conservative society -- make up half of the student body.

Last year, the institute's orchestra performed a series of concerts in the United States, including at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and Carnegie Hall in New York.
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Last year, the institute's orchestra performed a series of concerts in the United States, including at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and Carnegie Hall in New York.

With donors' backing, the institute has been able to hire Western music teachers and provide state-of-the-art facilities, including soundproof classrooms and a modern library.
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With donors' backing, the institute has been able to hire Western music teachers and provide state-of-the-art facilities, including soundproof classrooms and a modern library.

Sarmast is building a new concert venue that will be completed later this year as well as dormitories and rehearsal buildings for students. 
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Sarmast is building a new concert venue that will be completed later this year as well as dormitories and rehearsal buildings for students. 

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