Important Note: Kevin Bishop has notified us that he and the children he teaches are safe following the attack that took place in Kabul on Saturday, July 23. Our thoughts are with Kevin and the people of Kabul.
Imagine a life without music, dance, or songs. That was the unfortunate reality for people in Afghanistan when the Taliban banned instruments and decimated the nation’s musical traditions and cultures. But today, some Afghan children are hearing and playing music for the first time, thanks to Kevin Bishop M’13 and the work of other teachers at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM).
Bishop directs ANIM’s orchestral studies program and teaches violin to children who live on the streets and have no formal education. ANIM’s goal is to help the students become the next generation of music teachers and foster the restoration of the music culture.
“It is so rewarding to see the transformation our kids go through while they are at ANIM,” says Bishop, an alumnus and former faculty member at the University’s The Hartt School. “It is truly a pioneering program. The school hosts the only female musical ensemble in Afghanistan, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra also called Ensemble Zohra.” This ensemble recently made history when it released a viral video of the first performance ever in Afghanistan to be conducted by a female.
Although ANIM has made a lot of progress since its inception in 2010, it still faces challenges. “It is very different to teach in this environment,” explains Bishop, who earned a Master of Music Education at Hartt. “Education is not considered important so we have no support. Coming from America, it is hard to imagine some of the issues the children are faced with. A program like this really makes a change.”
Going forward, Bishop wants the orchestra to schedule more performances abroad to spread the message of hope and give the world a more positive image of the war-torn country of Afghanistan.
Read more stories about the University’s connections to Afghanistan: