Alexandria Symphony Presents Scheherazade

Posted Oct 14, 2022 | ASO News, Events, Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA—Under the direction of Music Director James Ross, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra presents Scheherazade – Afghan Days, Arabian Nights on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. (Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center) and Sunday, November 13, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. (George Washington Masonic Memorial).

ASO performs Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical epic Scheherazade, derived from four stories from One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of ancient Middle Eastern narratives. Scheherazade as the sultan’s queen is portrayed by the solo violin, its hauntingly exotic melody weaves throughout the piece as each story is told. John Williams’ Adventures on Earth from E.T. the Extraterrestrial opens this adventuresome program.

Two new Alexandrians from Afghanistan—Hamid Habib Zada and Negin Khpalwak—bring their artistry to the ASO stage through these performances. The musicians recently located to Alexandria after fleeing from Afghanistan during the fall of 2021. Hamid is featured on tabla (a pair of hand drums evolved from the Indian subcontinent) for Dinuk Wijeratne’s Tabla Concerto. Negin will conduct two songs by Afghanistan’s “Elvis,” Ahmad Zahir: Farwardin and Zindegi Akhair Sarayat.

Hamid has played tabla throughout Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the United States, recently performing at Lincoln Center as part of Summer in the City. He taught music while in Herat and studied at the Agha Khan Music School and the Afghanistan Institute of Music in Kabul.

Negin is the first Afghan female conductor leading Zohra, the first orchestra in Afghan history composed of only women. She has performed with Zohra in India and Europe and in the United States playing sarod (a stringed Hindustani instrument). She remains deeply connected to her colleagues and to the plight of women in present-day Afghanistan.

Through a generous contribution of $5,000 from Walmart’s Community Grant program, tickets will be provided to Afghan refugees at no cost to attend Saturday’s performance. Walmart stores 5753, 2194 and 2258, all located in Alexandria, played leadership roles.

“The plight of those arriving from Afghanistan with nothing but the clothes on their back and the terrifying turn of fate for Afghan women called out for an artistic and human response,” says Music Director James Ross. “Hamid and Negin hail from a culture where making music can be a life-or-death decision. We are honored to have them join the ASO in pieces that embody the richness of Eastern music.”