USA Tour


Historic First U.S. Tour
by Ensembles of Afghanistan National Institute of Music 

The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) broke new ground this winter, when leading ensembles of the institute – the war-torn nation’s sole music academy, founded and directed by Ahmad Sarmast, the first Afghan with a doctorate in music – made their American debut with a U.S. tour (Feb 2–17). Presented by the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, of which ANIM is a model school, this landmark visit was crowned by performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (Feb 7) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (Feb 12). These concerts featured many ensembles of ANIM, including the Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO), conducted by ANIM Violin Teacher William Harvey; the Sitar/Sarod Ensemble, led by emeritus sarod teacher Irfan Khan and sitar teacher Ehsan Irfan; and the Young Traditional Ensemble, led by ANIM Principal and Ghichak Teacher Muhammad Murad Sarkhosh.

Tour highlights included the following:

  • Sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall (2,804 seats) in New York City and the Kennedy Center (2,470 seats) in Washington, two of the most prestigious concert halls of the world
  • John Kerry listened to a student performance and spoke with students on his first day as Secretary of State of the USA, February 4
  • Letter of congratulations from US President Barack Obama to ANIM students and faculty
  • Youth exchange: rehearsals and performances with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras in Washington and the Scarsdale High School Orchestra in New York
  • Guest appearance by renowned violinist Mikhail Simonyan
  • Concerts at the World Bank, Afghan Embassy, Italian Embassy
  • Strong support from Afghan community living in USA; many audience members at all concerts were Afghan
  • Educational residency at New England Conservatory in Boston
  • Outreach concerts in schools
  • Cultural exposure visits and tourism, including Lion King musical on Broadway followed by meet-and-greet with cast and musicians

The tour received extensive coverage in the media. Here is a small selection:

The video of our entire concert at the Kennedy Center on Thursday, February 7! Here are some amazing photos of our Carnegie Hall concert experience by the extraordinary photographer Jennifer Taylor. Our students were chosen as ABC’s People of the Week!

NBC Today Show


CNN (Christiane Amanpour)

Washington Post video

Radio Boston audio feature

NPR article and feature

Wall Street Journal video

NTDTV (China)

Al Jazeera preview

VOA Pashto

Associated Press preview

New York Times preview

The Hill Blog

Reviews of Carnegie Hall concert:

New York Times

New Yorker

Lucid Culture

Concerto Net

Bach Track

Funded by the United States Embassy in Kabul, the World Bank, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, the tour showcased the extraordinary success of ANIM.