Jan 24, 2013

Dr Sarmast's Music School

Afghanistan's Institute of Music helps revitalise a ruined culture and gives children a chance to transform their lives. Source Al Jazeera

Filmmakers: Polly Watkins and Beth Frey
In 2001, when the Taliban was toppled from power, Afghanistan's musical culture was left in ruins. Music gradually came back onto the streets and into people's lives, but by 2009 there was still no orchestra capable of playing the Afghan national anthem.
In that year, renowned musicologist Dr Ahmad Sarmast returned from exile in Australia, and the Ministry of Education charged him with establishing the first National Institute of Music (ANIM). Based in what had been Kabul's School of Fine Arts, ANIM got off to a slow start: the building was a ruin and there were virtually no instruments.

Dr Sarmast's Music School follows ANIM's progress over two years as, gradually, the school is repaired and made habitable. Fine instruments - many donated by foreign sponsors - flood in, and the school's 150 pupils gradually learn to play to professional standards.
Perhaps, most importantly, ANIM offers hope to some of the country's most deprived children; those snatching a meagre income from working on the streets who find - through music - a way to transform their lives.