Longy School of Music of Bard College student, pianist, and composer Arson Fahim has curated a concert in celebration of Afghanistan’s rich musical legacy. Presented by Longy, “Concert in Solidarity with Afghan Musicians” will take place in person at Cambridge First Church on March 20, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. ET—the eve of Nowruz, the Persian New Year—and will be free and open to the public.
Born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, Arson, 22, is a citizen of Afghanistan. He arrived in the US just two weeks before the Taliban took control of Kabul in the summer of 2021. He has organized this concert to raise awareness for musicians in Afghanistan who have suffered or are suffering inhumane Taliban persecution.
Says Arson: “Musicians in Afghanistan have lost everything. They’re not allowed to play music. They’re not allowed to work. That shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone, anywhere—especially to artists of those countries with the ability to raise their voice.”
“My brave colleagues in Afghanistan who risk their lives to be musicians are the essence of what it means to be an artist. They fight extremists and fundamentalists like the Taliban with their instruments. Their music is a symbol of hope, change and love.”
“Concert in Solidarity with Afghan Musicians” will feature arrangements of traditional Afghan music as well as music by Afghan composers, including original compositions by Arson and Longy classmate Qudrat Wasefi. Arson has also invited The Oxford University Orchestra (OUO), who will be on tour in the United States, to join the performance. The concert will feature both small-ensemble and full-orchestra performances with the OUO, including music played on the traditional Afghan rubab as well as the commonly used tabla.
Since arriving, Arson has continually used his platform in the Longy community to raise awareness for Afghan artists. His original composition “Journey to the Sea” was recently featured by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) as part of their A Place to Call Home series, a season-long exploration of music by displaced composers. “Journey to the Sea” was Arson’s final composition before leaving Kabul.
A Place to Call Home features the music of exiled composers across the world, exploring what “home” means through the music of those whose lives have been uprooted. “I don’t think we believe that great art can improve or change people’s attitudes,” said LPO Artistic Director Elena Dubinets to The Sunday Times. “But what music can do is help us engage emotionally with these issues.”
Taking place at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the November 26 production featured performances by the LPO and young musicians from their Foyle Future Firsts development program. This comes one month after the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed Longy Composition student Hsiu-Ping (Patrick) Wu’s orchestral work “Whispers of Jukai.” Both Wu and Fahim are recipients of Equity Scholarships at Longy.
“We at Longy are immensely proud of Arson’s work, his drive and his empathy. It is an honor for us to provide a platform for his imperative message and to aid him in delivering it to the world,” says Karen Zorn, President of Longy School of Music. “Arson represents the best of Longy: a community of determined citizen-musicians using their artistry to make a difference in the world.”
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