Meena Karimi: Member of Zohra – Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestral ensemble

In 2014, a young trumpeter called Meena went to the office of ANIM’s director, Dr Sarmast. Meena wanted something. She wanted something that had never existed before in Afghanistan. Meena asked Dr Sarmast if she and her friends could form an all-girl ensemble. They wanted to play music on their own, and develop their own style of playing and repertoire.Dr Sarmast was thrilled by the idea.
“We want to open the door for new generation in Afghanistan because if we do not do it, another generation will never do it,” Meena Karimi, a fourteen-year-old performer with the ensemble, said. Meena’s choice to follow her passion for music means she has had to hide her talents from some members of her family.
“We all face challenges, my family support me but my relatives, my uncle, my aunt, they didn’t know that I play music,” she said.“When they understand and when they are ready to know I will tell them.”

So the Afghan Women’s Orchestra was born. It is the first ever all – female ensemble in the history of Afghanistan.
The orchestra, founded in 2015, has played in cities across the world, including a high profile performance at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2017.
The Afghan Women’s Orchestra began with fewer than ten players, but now over 30 young Afghan women play together. They rehearse twice a week, with more intensive rehearsals before concerts. Our girls play in the orchestra from Grade 6.Ensemble Zohra is featured on an album titled “”The Rosegarden of Light,” released via the UK label Toccata Classics and distributed internationally by the well-known Naxos label. The recordings of their music have been played across England on BBC Radio as well as the official radio station of the London Symphony, across the United States on National Public Radio as well as many local stations, and across all of Europe via special podcasts. They have received overwhelmingly positive reviews on websites, in magazines, and on the air all over the world and in many languages

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