MusicPress Release

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra To Spotlight Afghan Music and Culture During November Performances

Alexandria Symphony at The George Washington Masonic Memorial (Photo Credit: P.J. Barbour)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Under the direction of Music Director James Ross, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) 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 relocated 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 from Walmart’s Community Grant program, tickets will be provided to Afghan refugees at no cost to attend Saturday’s performance. Walmart stores 5753 and 2194, both 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.”

Adult prices for single tickets start at $20; $5 for youth and $15 for students. Military, senior and group discounts are also available. Subscriptions and single tickets now available. Visit or call (703) 548-0885 for more information.

SCHEHERAZADE – Afghan Days, Arabian Nights

James Ross, Music Director
Hamid Habib Zada, tabla
Negin Khpalwak, guest conductor


WILLIAMS: Adventures on Earth

ZAHIR: Farwardin and Zindegi Akhair Sarayat

WIJERATNE: Tabla Concerto


Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center

Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 3:00 p.m.

George Washington Masonic Memorial



Tickets: $20-$89 adults/$5 youth (18 and under)/$15 student (with valid ID).  Purchase at or call 703-548-0885.


Free parking provided by the ASO at both venues. The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is accessible by Metro bus lines 7A, 7B, 7F, 7Y, 25A, 25C and 25E, as well as DASH bus line AT6.  The George Washington Masonic Memorial is accessible by the Blue and Yellow metro line (King Street station), numerous Metro, DASH and Richmond Highway Express bus lines, and the King Street Trolley in Old Town, Alexandria.

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