ANIM Ensembles

Ensemble playing is at the very heart of ANIM.

Very simply, music brings people together. Through playing music together and listening to one another, the youth of Afghanistan can begin to heal their wounds and build strong bonds within Afghan society. Playing together in harmony teaches children to live in peace as a nation, no matter the ethnicity or background.

When children play in a musical ensemble they collaborate, listen, share, and contribute.  ANIM’s ensembles are a microcosm of the future we hope to build in Afghanistan: a peaceful, thriving, vibrant, and dynamic society which embraces diversity and provides opportunities for all.

ANIM has eight large ensembles and numerous small ensembles.

Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO)

This is the first orchestra of its kind in Afghanistan in over thirty years. Combining Western orchestral instruments with Afghan traditional and North Indian classical instruments, the AYO truly represents the unique and diverse musical landscape of Afghanistan and is modeled on the large orchestra of Radio Afghanistan that was in action until the mid 1980s. AYO is the premier ensemble of ANIM and will leave a legacy for years to come. The AYO has performed throughout Kabul, including for the president of Afghanistan. They have also performed on international tours to the United States, where they performed sold-out concerts at the world-renowned Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and Oman, where they performed at the prestigious Royal Opera House of Muscat. In its formative years, the AYO was led by ANIM’s emeritus violin instructor Mr. William Harvey. From 2014-2016 it was led by our emeritus percussion teacher Mr. Camilo Juaregui, and is currently led by our teacher of violin, orchestration, and conducting,  Mr. Kevin Bishop.

Afghan Women’s Orchestra “Zohra” (AWO)

While girls are represented in every ensemble of ANIM, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra “Zohra” is the first of its kind in the country. It consists of over thirty female students from grades 6 – 12. Led by young female conducting students who are the first female conductors in the country’s history, this ensemble is an important step in providing opportunities for female musicians to unite in solidarity, deepen their commitment to music, and develop their skills as collaborative musicians. Additionally, the AWO has strengthened female students’ motivation in practicing and has inspired the youngest girls at ANIM to work hard in order to join the ensemble when they are old enough. The AWO is prominently featured on the album "The Rosegarden of Light," released internationally on Toccata Classics and Naxos in 2016. Via this album, the AWO has been heard in radio and online broadcasts all across the world.  The young female conductors are overseen by Mr. Kevin Bishop.


ANIM’s Wind Ensemble, led by ANIM clarinet faculty member Ustad Farid Shefta, brings together all of the institute’s woodwind, brass, and percussion students to form a lively and powerful ensemble which has performed many concerts in Kabul.


ANIM’s rubab teacher Ustad Khial Mohammad directs this group of students playing traditional Afghan instruments including the Afghan rubab, dilruba, tanbur, harmonium, ghichak, tabla, and dhol. One of the most beloved ensembles of the country, this group is in high demand for their wonderful performances both locally and internationally. The Young Afghan Traditional Ensemble has represented the musical heritage of Afghanistan on the stages of the United States, Oman, South Korea, Denmark, Argentina, Dubai, and the United Kingdom.


ANIM’s ghichak teacher Ustad Murad Zarabi directs this group of ANIM’s youngest Afghan instrument students. This ensemble prepares them to join the Young Afghan Traditional Ensemble when they are old enough. Despite their young age, this ensemble is a joy to listen to and has performed on numerous TV stations, at embassies around Kabul, and internationally at the Annual Children’s Festival in Turkmenistan. The Junior Afghan Traditional Ensemble is prominently featured on the album "The Rosegarden of Light," released internationally on Toccata Classics and Naxos in 2016. Via this album, the ensemble has been heard in radio and online broadcasts all across the world, and has received rave reviews via prominent sources such as BBC Radio (UK) and NPR (USA).


ANIM’s students of the North Indian classical instruments sitar, sarod, and tabla join hands to make music together in the Sitar and Sarod Ensemble. Performing both Afghan and Indian classical music, these students have performed around Kabul as well as internationally in the United States, Oman, and Argentina.


ANIM’s Qawwali Group consists of two main singers, back-up singers, Afghan traditional and Indo-Afghan classical instruments. They play beautiful religious-themed music.


ANIM’s choir, a powerful ensemble of talented male and female students, have performed numerous times in Kabul at many important political and social events including official ceremonies for the president of the country. In March 2015, the ANIM Choir won an award for Best Regional Choir at Choir Fest Middle East in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.