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ARC @ WOMEX: Music Under Siege

Lisbon, Portugal

Music Under Siege: What can we do to help Afghanistan's artists at risk?

Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 12:00pm-12:45pm
Conference Room 4, Altice Arena
Rossio dos Olivais, 1990-231 Lisbon, Portugal

Paid event - Registration required

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Afghan musicians have found themselves in the crossfire of a political and economic crisis, with many forced to flee their country in the hope of building a new home for themselves and their creative legacy. The Taliban banned music the last time they were in power and shortly after they took over the country again they executed Fawad Andarabi, a well-known folk singer, and shut down Kabul University’s music department, while the renowned all-women Zohra Orchestra was forced to flee. Many more remain in the country, either by choice or by circumstance, and live in constant fear.

In the wake of this crisis, it is vital for the international music community to rethink cross-border solidarity and emergency and relocation measures, as well as explore innovative ways to preserve Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage.


Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast, Founding Director of the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM)

Dr. Ahmad Naser Sarmast is a recipient of the Honorary Membership Award of the Royal Philharmonic Society of the UK, the Founder and Director of the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM), and the all-women orchestra of Afghanistan, Zohra. Dr Sarmast is an advocate for music education and a strong believer in the power of music as a force in bringing about social changes, transforming lives, and connecting nations and civilizations. In 2009, this belief led him to establish ANIM, which soon became one of the most influential educational and cultural entities of the country, as well as widely known internationally for its unique mission and vision.

Mirwaiss Sidiqi, Ethnomusicologist and Director at Aga Khan Music Initiative

Mirwaiss Sidiqi is a UK-based ethnomusicologist and former visiting fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London. Since 2005, he has worked as a director and country coordinator at the Aga Khan Music Initiative, which aims to foster the development of living musical heritage in societies across the world where Muslims have a significant presence, and disseminate this work internationally through collaborations with exceptionally creative musicians, artists, educators, and arts presenters.

Chaired by Julie Trébault, Director of Artists at Risk Connection

Julie Trébault is the director of the Artists at Risk Connection. Prior to joining PEN America, she was the Director of Public Programs at the Museum of the City of New York and the Center for Architecture. Prior to moving to New York, she worked at the National Museum of Ethnology in the Netherlands, where she established a network of 116 museums. From 2004 to 2007, she was responsible for higher education and academic events at the Musée du quai Branly (Paris).


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