Negin Khpolwak: Afghanistan's First Female Conductor

As we continue to receive devastating news  as a result of the violence in the Middle East, it was wonderfully heartwarming and reassuring to read the BBC News story of Negin Khpolwak.

She is only 17 years old but already has big talent – and big ambitions.  Khpolwak, who was interviewed by Shaimaa Khalil, shared this:

All I want is to become a very good concert pianist and conductor, not only in Afghanistan, but in the world.

Khpolwak had the tremendous advantage of having the support of her father to not only go to school — a rarity for a poor girl from the Kunar province — but to study music.  She has been studying at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, the only music school of it’s kind in all of Afghanistan.  Though there are constant threats (including a suicide bomber attack at a concert last year, which killed one audience member) Khpolwak is determined to continue studying and to succeed.

As I applaud the work, achievements, and ambitions of Khpolwak, I’m also reminded of the story last year of Nazanin Aghakhani — the first female condutor in Iran.  It is truly heartening to hear these stories of progress and inclusion, though I most look forward to the day when women stop having “firsts”.


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