Dr. Ahmad Sarmast nominated IMC Five Music Rights Champion

Paris 05.12.2022

Founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Dr. Ahmad Sarmast has been nominated IMC Five Music Rights Champion, rejoining in this role Arn Chorn-Pond, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Ramy Essam and Tabu Osusa.
The Five Music Rights represent the core values of the International Music Council. They have been guiding the work of the IMC and of its network comprising some 1000 music organisations in 150 countries of the world.

Dr. Sarmast was born into one of Afghanistan’s most important musical families. Trained in trumpet and piano, he studied in the Soviet Union and Russia during the 1980s and 90s, becoming a refugee in Australia when Afghanistan’s Islamist parties began to forbid musical performance and persecute musicians. He learned English as an adult in Australia, eventually becoming the first Afghan to earn a Ph.D. in music.
He returned to his homeland for the first time after the Taliban rule in 2006, dedicating himself to promoting music rights and reviving Afghan music, which is as diverse as the country itself.

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In 2010, he founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, known by its acronym ANIM. Under his leadership, ANIM defied Taliban threats to teach boys and girls alongside one another, training them in Afghan and Western classical instruments and performing traditions. The school drew students from a range of economic and social backgrounds with an emphasis on those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and across all of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups. He also formed Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra, Zohra, as a student ensemble of ANIM.

Dr. Sarmast courageously continued his work even after he was badly injured in a Taliban attack at a peace concert in 2014.
When the Taliban retook power in August 2021, he was able to evacuate all 273 members of the ANIM community, students, staff, and faculty alike. The ANIM community has settled in Lisbon, Portugal, where the school will be reestablished.

He has preserved his native country’s music from extinction, saved the lives of many master musicians, and assured the futures of the young female and male Afghan musicians in peril.
Dr. Sarmast has put his life on the line for music rights of the Afghan people. He is a model for those of us who seek to bring humanity together through the performing arts.

“In such a tragic moment in the history of contemporary Afghanistan when an entire nation is forced into silence, [...] this designation has been significant and important. It is the recognition of the struggle of Afghan people for their music rights”, Dr. Sarmast commented his nomination.

IMC President Alfons Karabuda welcomed him with these words: “We are honoured that Dr. Sarmast has accepted to serve as Five Music Rights Champion. IMC and ANIM have a long history of common objectives since at least 2009, when the project Revival of Music Education in Afghanistan was among the laureates of the very first edition of the Music Rights Awards.
He incarnates perfectly the Five Music Music Rights and is an example for all of us.”

Watch the video here.

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