National Institute of Music Afghanistan. Founder. Kabul
Fair Saturday Forum
Ahmad Naser Sarmast is an Afghan-Australian ethnomusicologist. He is the founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. As his father, Ustad Salim Sarmast, was a famous musician, composer and conductor in Afghanistan, Ahmad grew up exposed to a wide variety of musical influences. Sarmast graduated from an Afghan music school in 1981. He later left Afghanistan in the 1990s due to the ongoing Afghan civil war. Sarmast earned a master's degree in musicology in 1993 from Moscow State Conservatory. He was given asylum in Australia in 1994. In 2005, Sarmast became the first Afghan to earn a PhD in music, earning his PhD from Monash University. Under the invitation of the Afghan Ministry of Education, Sarmast returned to Afghanistan to help revive music traditions in his native country after the defeat of the Taliban which suppressed Afghan music traditions. In 2006, Sarmast had outlined his proposal in the Revival of Afghan Music (ROAM), wanting to open a dedicated music school with a curriculum combining both Afghan and Western music. But was in 2008 when he formally opened the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul. At ANIM, the underprivileged children receive $30 per month to allow them to focus on school. Moreover, Sarmast also placed great importance on offering a co-educational learning environment, a rare situation in Afghanistan. In 2013, ANIM's Afghan Youth Orchestra toured the United States, including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2015, the first Afghan female conductor, Negin Khpolwak, held her first concert with an all-female ensemble.