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"Ustad" Farida Mahwash
"Ustad" Farida Mahwash

Afghani Musicians to Perform at Haverford

"Ustad" Mahwash and Ensemble Kaboul will bring to Haverford the rich musical tradition of Radio Kaboul, the state radio that flourished in Afghanistan before the arrival of the Soviets and was utterly silenced during the reign of the Taliban. Composed of Kaboul's former radio stars, now exiled, the group celebrates and preserves the musical achievements of composers that produced a cultural renaissance in Kaboul by blending traditional and Western-influenced music. Ensemble Kaboul will present both Afghani history and aesthetic in its performance of songs from the group's tribute to Kaboul CD, "Radio Kaboul."

Radio Kaboul's establishment in the 1940s was a significant social and musical event for Afghanistan. It spread music from the chambers of the elite to the general public and led to a rise in social status for musicians. This state radio station became the center of musical life in Afghanistan and composers drew from new technology and long-held traditions, sparking a period of great creativity and productivity.

Celebrate the survival of one of the world's artistic treasures with Ensemble Kaboul’s performance of traditional Afghan music, weaving together Indian, Persian, and Arabic influences reflecting that country's history at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road trade route. Ensemble Kaboul was founded in 1995 by a group of defiant expatriates who fled Taliban rule, and its concerts are an intoxicating blend of airy melodies of Tajik minstrels, ecstatic festival songs, classical ragas, and brilliant instrumental pieces.

Ensemble Kaboul features one of Radio Kaboul's greatest talents, singer "Ustad" Farida Mahwash, recognized as the greatest female singer of Afghanistan. She was named Artist of the Year in 1970 in Afghanistan and in 1977 was granted the coveted title of "Ustad" (Master), the only woman ever to be granted that title. Ensemble Kaboul's co-founder, Hossein Arman, was also a renowned musician in Radio Kaboul-era Afghanistan, as were many of the members of Ensemble Kaboul.

After the performance, the audience will be invited to stay for a conversation with the musicians. Professor Bijan Oliai from the University of Pennsylvania will serve as interpreter for a session about their music, the texts, their teachers and students, and the place of music in their lives in Kaboul, California, and Geneva. Members of the audience will be invited to ask questions as well.

This performance is made possible by the Kessinger Family Fund for Asian Performing Arts with additional support from the John B. Hurford '60 Humanities Center at Haverford College.

 

 

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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