Posts in News
February 2013 Newsletter

The students and faculty of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music arrived in New York this week. After performing to sold-out houses at Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, they’ll cap off their tour with a three-day residency at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

ANIM opened in June 2010 with a mission to rebuild Afghanistan's shattered musical culture. The school offers music and general education to some 150 students, many of them orphans and child workers. Significantly, a third of the students are girls.

For the past three years, NEC and ANIM have been joined through a growing network of interpersonal relationships. NEC alumni Robin Ryczek and Derek Beckvold have taught as full-time faculty at ANIM, and eight visits to Kabul by five NEC faculty, students and alumni have created a kind of dynamic, person-to-person diplomacy. 

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January 2013 Newsletter

November and December passed quickly and with some difficulty in my part of the world. When Hurricane Sandy visited New York my neighborhood, Red Hook, was among those badly hit. Although the storm passed swiftly through the news cycle, many of my neighbors are still living in its aftermath. So it was with special pleasure that we observed the passing of 2012 earlier this month.

The storm was a tear in the fabric of everyday life. I spent the first week on the ground floor of my friends’ house, salvaging books and belongings from the destruction of six feet of sewage and seawater. During that time the features of ordinary life became precious. Each salvaged book was a world of ideas; a good dry glove, a treasure; a table of food with friends around it, a universe. 

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October 2012 Newsletter

The two classes I teach for New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship department have become high points of my week. They’re sites of lively, complex and illuminating discussions about the meaning of music, making a difference, and making a living. But if anyone had told me back when I was in music school that one day I’d become a lecturer on entrepreneurship, I’d have laughed pretty hard.

I decided to become a musician at least in part because I wanted nothing to do with business. I wanted to be an artist, and to me that meant a life that aligned heart and mind, and body and soul. I didn’t see how business and the bottom line could enter into it: like a lot of the students I speak with, I drew a thick line between music and money, quietly pretending that one had nothing to do with the other.

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September 2012 Newsletter

For the past two years I’ve been involved in teaching and developing curriculum for New England Conservatory’s Department of Entrepreneurial Musicianship. In undergraduate classes and graduate seminars I help young musicians lay the groundwork for not just a musical career, but a life in music.

One of the things about teaching is that you tend to learn at least as much as your students do. The conversations we have in class challenge me to think about my own professional and personal choices, past and present. We cover all kinds of ground from career visioning and planning, to time management, personal finances, self-presentation, project funding, creative renewal and self-promotion.

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OpEd in the Boston Globe

IMAGINE A world without music. It’s like something out of a soul-deadening, dystopian future. And yet the people of Afghanistan living under Taliban rule in the 1990s were forbidden to sing, play an instrument, or listen to music except for prescribed religious or patriotic chants. Anyone in violation, the mullahs decreed, would have molten lead poured into their ears on Judgment Day – and be subject to jail or beatings here on earth.

The Taliban smashed instruments, burned recordings, and destroyed the archives of traditional Afghan folk songs at Radio Kabul. Even after they were routed from power in 2001, and fatwas gave way to the secular depredations of war and poverty, music has been treated with suspicion. Playing Mozart in Kabul can be a little like reading Lolita in Tehran. So it was an act of bravery as well as hope when the Afghanistan National Institute of Music opened last summer.

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