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Composition by Arts Academy student Meena Karimi to be performed by the Chineke! Orchestra at London’s Southbank Centre

“Dawn” portrays the dreams, hopes, and struggles of women and girls in Afghanistan today.

Meena Karimi

Meena Karimi

“Dawn,” a composition by Interlochen Arts Academy student Meena Karimi, will be performed by the Chineke! Orchestra at London’s Southbank Centre on Saturday, Oct. 16. The performance will mark the European premiere of the work. 

“Dawn” portrays the dreams, hopes, and struggles of women and girls in Afghanistan today. “I wrote ‘Dawn’ to raise awareness of the challenges faced by girls and women in Afghanistan and to express that through our struggles, we can stand up for our rights,” said Karimi, a newly arrived cello major at Interlochen. “Today the situation in Afghanistan is even more difficult because the Taliban are not letting girls and women go to school or work. This is why we must work even harder to support girls and women in Afghanistan.”

“Connecting our voices through this composition and through the community unites all of us around this important cause. Together we will continue our story and share the message that girls and women in Afghanistan are strong. It is my hope that when they hear this performance, they will know that we are not giving up on them.”

Karimi started her musical studies at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. She performed around the globe as part of the Zohra Orchestra, Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, at such venues as the Sydney Opera House, the British Museum in London, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Karimi has also collaborated with youth groups from Northern Ireland’s Beyond Skin and Portugal’s Orquestra Divino Sospiro.

Alongside her study of the cello and chamber music repertoire, Karimi plays traditional Afghan songs on the dilruba (a bowed instrument commonly played in Afghanistan). “Dawn” is her first composition for cello and orchestra. It was orchestrated by Arson Fahim. 

Chineke! was founded in 2015 by the double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, to provide career opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the U.K. and Europe. Chineke!’s mission is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music.’ As Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of Black and ethnically diverse composers both past and present.