Zohra Orchestra: Reflecting on the Power of Arts to Craft Identities, Unite Cultures and Save Lives
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
With the recent easing of distancing regulation and the Australian Federal Government recently announcing that $250 million will be invested to stimulate Australia’s arts and entertainment industries, Gandhi Creations have been eagerly looking forward to bouncing back into 2020 with the same energy that closed off one of our biggest years in 2019.
Recently, we have taken the time to revisit one of our most meaningful and positively received projects of 2019, Zohra Orchestra’s debut tour of Australia which gave Australians the rare opportunity to witness Afghanistan’s first all-female, internationally acclaimed orchestra
Coordinated in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence and the 50 Year Anniversary of Afghanistan-Australia Diplomatic Relations, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music’s Zohra Orchestra, more affectionately known as Zohra, touched down at two of Australia’s most iconic cultural and entertainment landmarks. With both performances occurring across a three-day period in October, the first was held at Monash University’s Blackwood Hall in Melbourne in the presence of , whilst the second tour took place at the Sydney Opera House in the presence of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
When consulted and procured by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Australian Government to oversee the delivery and production of this project, Zohra’s debut tour of Australia showed all the tell-tale signs of a quintessential Gandhi Creations project. The tour provided Australians with the rare opportunity to witness Afghanistan’s first all-female, internationally acclaimed orchestra as they were led by the country’s first female conductor. The overarching aim of this tour was to leverage the arts to further the relationship between Afghanistan and Australia in celebration of the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relationship.
Whilst the obvious ramifications of generating cross cultural exchange and bilateral impact were a major attraction, perhaps even more motivating was the chance to support these seventy-five brave young women who had defied the odds in attaining an education and playing music together, allowing them to explore their culture and identities as artists and women. In fact, nothing about the musical journey of Zohra Orchestra is entirely typical – Their genre defying sound is unique in the sense that it harmoniously blends classical Afghan sounds and Western instruments in a manner that simultaneously generates cultural harmonies and pays homage to the nuances of traditional Afghan culture. You can learn more about Zohra here.
Across both performances, the reception that Zohra received was phenomenal. Both shows attracted sell out crowds, received standing ovations, drew the attention of many high-profile Government guests, and were the subject of acclaim for a considerable number of media outlets and music critics. Arguably more rewarding than the success of their on stage performances however, was the manner in which Australian audiences were able to identify and connect with the stories of the women performing on stage. For many in attendance, the music that they experienced on those two evenings in October in 2019 acted as vessels to share inspiring tales of bravery, individuality, and triumph in the face of adversity.
As we at Gandhi Creations warmly reflect on the success that was Zohra’s debut tour of Australia, we can not wait to continue delivering platforms that unite cultures, strengthen bilateral ties, and support Australia’s creative and artistic communities after the initial set backs of 2020. With the return of the events industry looming just beyond the horizon, our focus now is onward and upwards.