Pakistan trip and Afghanistan jobs
I had a great time reconnecting with old friends and collaborators, such as the vibrant and invaluable Children's Academy of Performing Arts, which offers music, theater, and dance lessons to Karachi's young children. I also loved meeting new artists whom I admire tremendously. First, I must mention Usman Riaz, one of the few people I've met who deserves the "genius" moniker. He has reinvented guitar technique while simultaneously pushing the boundaries with his innovative and powerful paintings. Check out this interview with Usman, which includes the video of his incredible composition "Firefly," which has attracted over 150,000 YouTube views.
Next, I was very impressed to learn about the MAD School. Founded by Nida Butt, the MAD School has many important projects, including a series of music classes that they offer to underprivileged children from the Lyari neighborhood of Karachi. However, what really blew me away was the musical "Karachi," which Nida and her husband Hamza Jafri created: Nida directed, co-produced, and choreographed, and Hamza composed and arranged the music. This musical does for "Karachi" what the musical "Chicago" did for Chicago: it creates a glamorous, gritty tale filled with catchy tunes and dance numbers. You can see a news story about it here; here is a look behind the scenes.
I firmly believe that if this musical were to open on Broadway, not only would it be a big hit, but it would also radically change American perceptions about Pakistan. This musical, and the stunning virtuosity and creativity of Usman Riaz, should be what people think of when they think about Pakistan.
My final day in Karachi was particularly thrilling: together with F.E.W. the band, we performed at an orphanage run by the Edhi foundation and at Dar ul Sukun, a home for the mentally and physically disabled. It is difficult to explain in words the impact of performing at these places. I am still processing the experience and will soon write an article for a cultural diplomacy publication, focusing on these performances. I will post a link to that article at this blog when it becomes available.
Now that I'm back in Kabul, I'm hard at work preparing for a big concerts here. In the meantime, any cellists, saxophonists, and guitarists who are interested in changing the world by teaching in Afghanistan should apply for a job at ANIM. Apply by following the instructions at these links:
Cello & bass