The United States would continue to work to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry said, welcoming a group of Afghan musicians in one of his first public appearance as the top American diplomat.
“I think you all know that we have very very high hopes from your country that you can find peace and stability and we would continue to work with you to try to do that,” Kerry told young visiting members of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) who are here on their first ever trip to the United States, during which they are scheduled to perform both in New York and Washington DC.
Kerry made an unscheduled appearance at the auditorium of the State Department headquarters at the State Department, a few hours after formally taking over the position of the Secretary of State. He was sworn in on Friday replacing Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State.
“I do not have a lot to time to talk to you all. I had the privilege of travelling to Afghanistan many times,” Kerry said in his brief interaction with the members of the Afghan Youth Orchestra. “Music is the international language of peace,” said the Secretary of State welcoming the young Afghan musicians to the State Department and described them as Ambassadors of Peace.
“We are happy to welcome you here as Ambassadors of Peace. I am particularly happy to welcome you here because when I was of your age, I played in a rock band,” he said amidst applause from the audience. “You can actually go to our youtube and hear some of our music. It is called the electrics. And I still play guitar. When I go home I love to play guitar and love to see all these string instruments here,” he said.
Kerry also sat down for a few minutes listening to the enthralling music from these young Afghan musicians. Impressed by their performance, he went and met each one of them and was seen talking to a few of them before he left.
Founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, ANIM is both a source and a symbol of Afghanistan’s progress, exemplifying the restoration of Afghanistan’s rich culture in a country where the Taliban had repressed all forms of musical expression, the State Department said. “Many of the teachers at the Institute are private American citizens who have chosen to live in Kabul in order to bring the gift of music to these young children,” it said.
Funded by the US Embassy in Kabul, the World Bank, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, the tour from February 2 to 17 will showcase the extraordinary success of ANIM.
These concerts will feature the Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO) and other ANIM ensembles performing orchestral and chamber music on both Western and traditional instruments; collaborations with their contemporaries from American youth orchestras; and guest appearances by award-winning Russian violinist Mikhail Simonyan.