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Arson Fahim

Featured by the BBC World Service and Lyse Doucet, composer and pianist Arson Fahim’s (b. 2000) music is infused with his compassion and a fierce commitment to social justice within his homeland of Afghanistan. Having graduated from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in 2020, he is now enrolled in a composition degree at Longy School of Music in Boston. Fahim’s music has been performed in the USA, UK and Italy, and his original score for the play In the Sea There Are Crocodiles was performed at the Wales Millennium Centre in November 2021.

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Dance of Terror  (2022)

Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, rubab and strings

Duration:  6' 30"

Premiere: 5 July 2022, Spitalfields Music Festival, London. Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra w/Saphawat Simab, rubab and Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, conductor

Commissioned for The Orchestral Music of Afghanistan: Looking Forward  project

About Dance of Terror

Sometimes when pain becomes overwhelming, humour becomes a defence mechanism. When you live in a place where at any moment a bomb or a terrorist attack can kill you or much worse, someone you love, you have to laugh at the face of death to make life bearable - it’s the most deeply tragic kind of laughter. No war can ever be just, and no matter how hard I’ve tried, no reason can make sense of war.


Looking back at the 20 years of the US war in Afghanistan, it looks like an episode of Tom and Jerry – the war being a playful game, and the news being entertainment to spectators. As hundreds of thousands died, those in power only continued to gather more power and money, and every country involved in the war only prioritized their personal interests at the cost of the people of Afghanistan. It is seldom those who invoke war who suffer the consequences. To them, earth is merely a playground for their political games, the deaths are just numbers – but those numbers are lives lost. Not just the lives of those who were taken by war, but also the lives of those who lost loved ones and will never be able to live the lives they used to again.


No matter what the political reasons behind it, the destruction and devastation that war brings can never be justified.

– Arson Fahim, June 2022

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