Posted on February 18, 2013
Tuesday last week I traveled from Albany to New York City to see/hear the Afghan Youth Orchestra with two young Afghans and their Mother/caretaker while they are in the US going to school. We arrived found parking and wondered around Times Square until it was time to attend the concert. All of us had been anticipating this day since we had decided to come.
The story of the Orchestra is remarkable. As the Minister of Education His Excellency Faroq Wardak stated, “Music is in our past, our present and our future.” One of the tragedy’s of Afghan history was the destruction of all musical instruments and means of playing music by the Taliban who mistakenly believe that music is unIslamic. Dr. Ahman Sarmast who had emigrated to Australia began a systematic revival of Afghan Music returning to Kabul to develop the The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). The school located in Kabul is “committed to providing a dynamic, challenging, and safe learning environment for all students, regardless of gender , ethnicity, or social circumstances. ANIM focusses on supporting the most disadvantaged group in Afghan society — the orphans and street-working children– by helping them attain a vocation that will allow them to reach their full potential, while contributing to their emotional health.”
The concert was two days before Valentines days so it was interesting attempting to describe the holiday and all the roses in the flower markets and heart decorations.
As we waited for the concert to begin we made contact with a women sitting behind us who had taught William Harvey the conductor who had been a Juilliard student. The concert began with a number of very traditional Afghan Folk tunes played by a number of the Afghan traditional stringed instruments. These students set on low carpet-covered platforms playing in the traditional style featuring both girls and boys.
Aqil, who I sat next to, recited the words to the tunes as I asked what the meaning was of the music. The first was a love song for Afghanistan and the second a love song for a woman. The instruments ranged from the sitar in the center, rubab on the left, tabla (percussion) behind, ghichak on the right, and sarod, tanbur and dilruba in between. I was told by both the young Afghans that there was one instrument not represented.
The two remarkable pieces that they played were Ravel’s Bolero and an adaptation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, The Four Seasons of Afghanistan. It really was sweet to read the notes and realize just how much of the culture I have absorbed through the years and the depth of the four seasons.
Here is the New York Times review of the concert.
After the concert, Aqil and Mursal wanted to met the Afghan students so we found our way to the back stage door and waited. Aqil dressed in traditional Afghan dress was often mistaken for one of the orchestra. Please if you wish to know more about the Afghan youth orchestra and their journey and hear some of their music follow the following videos:
Here is the ending piece for peace that they also played as an encore.
I do hope that you enjoy the gift these young musicians share with us.
Dreaming of Peace for these young people,
Posted on February 4, 2013
The exhibition of 34 images is now hanging on the Walls in the Yates gallery. I invite you if you can to visit the Siena College Library to view the work. The invitation and information concerning the show will follow. We had –according to my husband Frank’s count– we had almost 80 people attend. The gallery director, Sergio Sericolo who was a pleasure to work with, noted that they had never had as many people to an opening. So thank you all for coming.
Unfortunately I did not have anyone taking pictures of the reception and gallery talk. I am delighted that I have a SUNY photo journalism class coming for a walk through and a Siena class concerning Arts and activism also coming for a gallery walk through. If you would also like to bring a group for a walk through please contact me and I will help make the necessary arrangements. I do hope that many of you will make it to the exhibit and I would love to hear your comments.
I am very excited about the new work and can see the growth that I have made since my last trip to West Africa. It is a good feeling when I can say that about my own work particularly when I am the most critical viewer.
As always, in gratitude,
Posted on October 21, 2012
Many of you have mentioned that you are waiting to see some of my new work from the trip to West Africa. I will give a general overview of the trip in my next post for now I would like to share with you a current exhibit I set up just before I left for West Africa and will continue into the beginning of November.
Afghan Portraits: Windows to the Soul
Hudson Valley Community College Library, Troy, New York
September 1, 2012 – November 9, 2012
A link to the library hours. https://www.hvcc.edu/learning-commons/hours.html
Afghan Women Speak
Fall 2012 Voices, A Library Lecture Series
Hudson Valley Community College
Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium
Thursday, November 8 Noon – 12:50 p.m.
Connie Frisbee Houde, a photojournalist who has traveled deep into the heart of Afghanistan, will share images that give voice to Afghan women. In her audiovisual presentation will depict the realities of Afghan life as the women attempt to keep alive their autonomy, culture and community. The poignant beauty of Afghanistan and the strength of its own women will be evident.
Posted on August 15, 2012
Posted on October 23, 2011
I seem to tell myself that I am going to make entries on a more regular basis and then time passes. Now I will catch you up, dear readers, with my latest activities.
First during from September 22 to October 28th I have had 50 images at The Basset Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, a wonderful gallery in Camden, South Carolina. I was chosen to open their season. My husband and I packed up our Prius and Drove stoping to see my Afghan American friend Fahima Vorgetts on the way catching up on her most recent visit to Afghanistan and a followup to Mir Taqui Shah where together with Women Against War supported the construction of a clean drinking water and irrigation well (see a previous blog entry and more will follow).
One wall contained images dedicated to Tom Little, who was killed August 5, 2010, and his work for the National Organization for Opthalmic Rehabilitation.
To give some additional ambiance to a sense of Afghanistan I included some dressed dolls and handcrafts made by Afghan women.
While I was in Camden I spoke at 5 different schools both middle and High school classes.
I talked of the culture and the people and my work sharing numbers of my images. The students expressed interest and asked many questions.
Back in Albany I went straight to editing and printing for an exhibition of images from Ghana Good Morning Teacher at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 85 Chestnut Street, Albany, NY. These 41 photos will be on display for the African Family Night, Saturday November 5th from 5 to 8:30. This is a fundraiser for the African projects that the church supports and there will be a diner of delicious African food. Please contact the church for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since all my frames where used for the exhibition in South Carolina, I decided to use Rare Earth Magnets and steel tacks to hang the unframed prints, which I think worked quite well for what has been basically a two night show.
For the Albany first Friday event the church provided two wonderful musicians.
This weekend the banners were at the Opalka gallery.
On October 25 a Peace rally 1oth Anniversary of the US War in Afghanistan. How is the War Economy Working For you? I read a poem of Nadai Anjumon an Afghan women poet concerning the plight of Afghan women which has not changed and in some areas is the worst that it has been for some time.
We were also blessed to have Congressmen Paul Tonko speak and support the effort to end the War in Afghanistan and bring our Troops home.
As a last comment I wish to tank my husband who has supported my incredibly involved life and who feeds me both my heart and my belly in between all these events.
And my dear friend if you have made it to the end of this post I thank you. Please look for a future entry concerning the progress in the village in Afghanistan which we support and I hope we can continue to support as well as my next exhibit in Elmira, New York in November – Afghan Portraits: Windows to the Soul.
Posted on July 31, 2010
I thought I would include this shot taken in France while I was traveling with a colleague for work to let you all know that Afghanistan is not the only place I travel. That said I will be returning Monday to Afghanistan for a month.
I have been writing lately of our efforts to build a well in Mir Taqi Shah, a village south of Kabul. Now that it is up and operational [see previous blog entry] I will be in the village with Fahima Vorgetts (Afghan Women’s Fund) in late August to see first hand the effects of this project. I will have the privilege and honor of visiting some of Fahima’s other projects around Kabul.
Traveling half way around the world I wanted to have a bit more time in Afghanistan so I contacted my long time friends Tom and Libby Little who have been working in Afghanistan for the past 30 years (National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation – see previous entries and photo galleries). Before I heard back from Tom and the day before my birthday I received an amazing offer from Diana Tacey, executive director of ChildLight Foundation for Afghan Children www.childlightfoundation.org. I have never met Diana however we have corresponded and talked on the phone. We discovered we are kindred spirits who care deeply for the Afghan people wanting to lend a hand assisting them as they work to recover from years of continuing war which has thrust them in to and keep them in poverty in many places across the country. She invited me to travel with her in the beginning of August visiting women’s prisons around the country.
I will be adding to this blog from on the road when it is possible to do so. If you would like to follow our travels please click the “About Connie” in the tool bar at the top of this page, scroll to the bottom and check the box “subscribe by email to this post”. I do hope that many of you will join me on this journey.
In gratitude for your love and supporrt,
Posted on January 3, 2010
My first exhibition of images from the September/October 2009 journey to Afghanistan is currently at Mango Tree Imports, 2124A Rt 50, Ballston Spa, New York #518-884-4652 until January 31st. There will be a special event January 8th, 2010.
Here are two of the images that are featured in the exhibit. The first is a panoramic taken from the roof of the house of an Afghan family who introduced us to a variety of Afghan public officials.
One of the most moving interviews we had was with Dr. Soraya Sobhrang, Commissioner for Women’s Rights of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. She is an OBGYN who fled Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. She has chosen to return to Afghanistan to help her native people, particularly women, at tremendous risk for her own safety. She has received death threats because of her activities.
To learn more of my current conditions in Afghanistan and my experiences please contact me to speak to your group or to present an exhibition of my images.
I also am very honored to have received and honorable mention for my submission for the members show at the Albany Center Gallery juried by Tammas Groft, Deputy Director of Collecti0ns and Exhibitions of the Albany Institute of History and Art. The photograph is one of my first attempts at High Dynamic Range Photography. Believe it or not it is of a friends compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. When I learn how to convert this type of image to a format that I can up load I will include it here.
Posted on December 25, 2009
One of or members wanted to buy musical instruments for her daughter so Asad and Noorai, our Afghan friends who Jodie from CodePink knew from their time in the Bay area, took her to the musicians street. One man who made rebab’s payed for us. The high light was the “older” gentleman of approximately 40 years started to sing a Pushtu song of the love of Afghanistan. Having lived in Kabul all his life in a family that followed the musical tradition of father and mother teaching their children who then carried the information to the next generation. During the Taliban time they buried their instruments in the ground in the basement of their house. If they had been discovered they would have been severely beaten or killed. We all felt his love and our hearts melted as we too found a peaceful, joyous, beautiful county from the tone and tenor of his song.
Media Benjamin and Jodie Evans stand on either side of to very brave and courageous women who spoke of the shia family law and the protest they arranged to get the law changed. Telling of how empowered – as well as terrified – they felt as 200 to 250 brave women faced off hundreds of very angry men and women. They continue their work knowing that they have the support of many and the revolution once again is beginning.
Posted on December 25, 2009
Posted on December 25, 2009
We keep busy almost every minute with meetings of all types. One of the highlights a couple of days ago was listening to Soraya director of women’s rights in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was extremely energetic with a sparkle in her eye. She spoke of the work they did to protest and successfully change the Siai (forgive my incorrect spelling) family law. She invited us to attend a women’s conference Afghanistan – India – Pakistan Trialogue for Peace that just happens to be while we are here. So yesterday we attended the opening and met with many different people during a tea break and lunch. The day before yesterday we visited Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, a member of the Afghan National Assembly, in her home experiencing her dedication to women using her position to prevent unjust laws from passing for women and to create a better position for women. It surprises me just how much access we have had to these people. Must get to breakfast to give me energy for the days activities.