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Hartford Ensemble Performs With Afghan Children in Multimedia Concert

Cuatro Puntos
Members of Hartford-based Cuatro Puntos and Kabul's all-girl Ensemble Zohra outside The Afghanistan National Institute of Music last summer.
The ensemble's performance will weave in themes based on the traditional folk music of Afghanistan.

A new work based on folk music from Afghanistan will be performed Friday night in Hartford. The Hartford-based ensemble Cuatro Puntos with perform live with a video recording of an Afghan girl's ensemble.

Members of Cuatro Puntos have served as summer faculty at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul for the last two years.

Cuatro Puntos founder violist Kevin Bishop said decades of turmoil have had a lasting impact on music in Afghanistan.

"Under the Taliban regime, which ended in 2001, music was entirely outlawed, and from then on it has been a struggle," Bishop said. "Still, culturally, it's questionably accepted."

It's also dangerous. In December 2014, a suicide bomber attacked the students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music during a performance at Kabul's French Cultural Center. None of the students were injured in the bombing, but the music institute's director suffered substantial injuries.

Bishop said his ensemble wanted to do something to show their support. "And we decided that the best response is to have the girls be heard, because the attempts in Afghanistan are to silence music, and especially silence women," Bishop said. 

To that end, Cuatro Puntos commissioned British composer and Afghan music scholar Sadie Harrison to write a new work for Cuatro Puntos and Ensemble Zohra that weaves in themes based on the traditional folk music of Afghanistan. The result is called "The Rosegarden of Light."

Last summer, Ensemble Zohra recorded their parts for "The Rosegarden of Light," and this Friday night, Cuatro Puntos will play their parts live along to that recording at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. The concert begins at 7:00 pm.

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