Hear Voices of Afghanistan

By From page B6 | February 28, 2014

Despite enduring great personal risk in their homeland when music was controlled, censored and, finally, banned altogether, Ustad Farida Mahwash and Homayoun Sakhi persevered in developing their musical talent independently.

Now working together as Voices of Afghanistan, these remarkable artists bring together and perform a blend of ghazals, Afghan folk songs imbued with Sufi mysticism and ever-evolving new takes on Afghanistan’s musical legacy.

Harris Center for the Arts is pleased to present Voices of Afghanistan: Love Songs for Humanity on Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m.

Through their spellbinding performances, they purvey hope for a new era of freedom and joy yet to come in their beloved homeland as they perform. In addition they are joined by the Sakhi Ensemble, including Abbos Kosimov, Khalil Ragheb, Perviz Sakhi and Ezmarrai Aref.

Long considered “the voice of Afghanistan” and the first woman to be granted the honorific title of Ustad (Maestra), Mahwash is celebrated around the globe for her ghazal repertoire.

Mahwash’s story is one of unyielding perseverance as witnessed by the great personal risk she encountered by performing in public during the early years of Taliban rule. After decades of political turmoil, she was forced to leave Afghanistan in 1991. She moved to Pakistan where she took refuge from the two warring sides of the time, each of which warned her to sing for their cause or else face assassination. Her plight was recognized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and she was granted political asylum in the United States in 1992.

Sakhi was born in Kabul in 1976 into one of Afghanistan’s leading musical families. From the age of 10, he studied rubâb — the lute-like national instrument of Afghanistan — with his father, Ghulam Sakhi. Sakhi’s personal story illustrates the extraordinarily challenging conditions under which he and his fellow Afghan musicians have pursued their art. During Afghanistan’s many years of armed conflict, the classical rubâb style to which Sakhi had devoted his career not only survived but reached new creative heights. He was granted residency in the United States and settled in Fremont.

Tickets are $25 to $35, premium $45 and students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at or from the Harris Center ticket office at 916-608-6888 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket.

Harris Center is located at 10 College Parkway in Folsom.

Harris Center for the Arts

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