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A Chance To Hear Afghan Music

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November 13, 2021

By Barrett Seaman —

The event at Dobbs Ferry’s South Church on Sunday, Nov. 21, will not be your typical rivertowns fundraiser, though it is indeed an effort to raise money in support of resettlement efforts on behalf of refugees recently arrived from Afghanistan.

It will also be a rare opportunity to absorb the musical culture of a benighted country known to most Americans as the site of an endless war. The marquee performer will be 24-year-old Elham Fanoos, an internationally trained — and honored — pianist, whose life work has been to “embody a positive face of Afghanistan’s future and to provide hope to musicians and artists living under threats to their creative expression all around the world.” He has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington and Carnegie Hall in New York as well as for members of the diplomatic corps in a variety of countries, including his own.

Afghani concert pianist Elham Fanoos

He was the 3rd prize winner in the Golden Key International Piano Competition in Frankfurt in 2012 and the winner of Concerto Competition at Hunter College, where he trained, as well as at the Manhattan School of Music and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, the only Afghan school where boys and girls could study academic subjects and both eastern and western musical traditions together. At the South Church event, he will perform his interpretations of traditional Afghan music.

Afghan performer Ahmad Fanoos

Elham’s father, Ahmad Fanoos, a famous singer of traditional songs in his native country, has only recently been released from the refugee resettlement facility in Virginia and will also be able to make the event.

Another musician who will be performing is Quareshi Roya, long absent but still famous in his native country. In 1983, Roya brought with him to the U.S. the traditional Afghan instrument, the ruhab, a short-necked, lute-like string instrument that traces back to the eighth century BC. The music he has since created reflects a wide range of musical cultures blended with that of his native Afghanistan.

Also slated to perform is St. Petersburg-born Eugene Sirotkine, a pianist and conductor of the Hudson Valley Singers.

Maestro Eugene Sirotkine

The musical performances will be preceded by a panel discussion of refugee issues. The program starts at 4 p.m.


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