Sadie Harrison premiere at the World Economic Forum with Afghanistan’s first women conductors

UYMP's Sadie Harrison helps to write history as she dedicates two pieces to Afghanistan Women’s Orchestra ‘Ensemble Zohra’. Her new piece, Sapida-Dam-Nau (New Dawn), is to be premiered this month alongside interludes from Gulistan-e Nur (The Rosegarden of Light)., which will be conducted by Afghanistan's first female conductors. Sadie talks about this opportunity and her new work.

Sadie writes:

It has been an unbelievable honour to write for the young women of Ensemble Zohra and I am thrilled that my new work Sapida-Dam-Nau (New Dawn) will be premiered at the Closing Concert of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 20 January 2017 conducted by Kevin Bishop with subsequent performances at the  Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich, Centre for the Arts, International School of Geneva, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche (Berlin), Großer Saal des Musikgymnasiums Schloss Belvedere (Weimar). 

On ANIM’s website, Ensemble Zohra is described as ‘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. Ensemble Zohra 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 on radio and online broadcasts all across the world.  The young female conductors are overseen by Ustad Kevin Bishop.



The AWO is unique in its integration of traditional and western instruments, including the tanbur, ghichak, dilruba, sitar, rubab and qashkarcha, instruments which feature alongside compliments of strings, woodwind, percussion and piano. Sapida-Dam-Nau integrates the instruments into a piece which celebrates the unique sound of the ensemble. The huge variety of sounds are transformed into jubilant peals of bells and two contrasted melodies. The first melody is lyrical and reminiscent of the English pastoral and the second is joyous in character, inspired by an Afghan-Indian scale associated with early morning. The title is suggestive of the music that might be heard at dawn in both my home town of Shaftesbury and in Kabul and also celebrates the ‘new dawn’ of music in Afghanistan. It is particularly wonderful that this rebirth is being spearheaded by the Afghanistan Women’s Orchestra ‘Ensemble Zohra’ (Venus). The commission was generously supported by a 2016 Finzi Trust Scholarship.


Alongside the performances of Sapida-dam-Nau, the World Economic Forum Closing Concert and following European concerts will feature two of the Interludes from Gulistan-e Nur (The Rosegarden of Light) written for Ensemble Zohra and US ensemble Cuatro Puntos in 2015. It is absolutely wonderful that they will be directed by Afghanistan’s first female conductors - Negin Khpolwak and Zarifa Adiba, students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Negin will conduct Bahar-e nastaran-bihag (Radio Piece) with Zarifa conducting Watan Jan (Dear Homeland). Kevin Bishop, Director of Orchestral Studies at ANIM (and conducting tutor to the young women) says, 'it is an important and symbolic gesture for a woman to take a public, leadership role in Afghanistan- and it is one that does not come without risks. All of our young ladies have been very brave and defied the odds against violence and poverty to come to school each day.’ It has been my honour to be associated with all the young people at ANIM, but particularly with these women who are quite simply helping to rewrite history!


All the tour dates are listed on our performances page and full details of the tour including information about live streaming of the World Economic Forum Closing Concert and associated Press Conferences can be found at:


2. #zohratour 

3. Webcast live at


(11 Jan 2017)

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