Meena Karimi (b. 2006) is a cellist, composer, and women’s rights advocate from Afghanistan. She started her musical studies on cello and dilruba and is currently majoring in classical cello performance at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, U.S.A. She has been featured in the Financial Times, New York Times magazine, NBC News, BBC World with Lyse Doucet, and recently has been part of VII Foundation’s exhibition “Imagine: Reflections on Peace” at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington D.C. In addition to her music activities, Meena is a member of many campus groups, loves to read, and enjoys sharing her experiences living in the United States through her newsletters and website.
Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, rubab, dutar, sitar and strings
Premiere: 2021 Afghanistan National Institute of Music, w/Meena Karimi, cello. Arson Fahim, conductor.
Additional performances: Chineke!, Orchestra Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (2021); Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Spitalfields Music Festiva, Londonl (2022); GrassRoots Festival Orchestra, Trumansburg, New York (2022)
Dawn was my first composition and it represents the story, struggles, strengths, and pain of women and girls in Afghanistan. Afghan women have always had to fight in order to achieve one basic human right such as going to school or participating equally in a country that they are part of. I grew up experiencing this in my everyday life and so Dawn is my story as much as it is the story of my mother, sisters, friends, and other Afghan women.
Dawn ends on an unresolved chord and I did this on purpose. This represents the ongoing struggles of Afghan women and it is my way of inviting the listener to participate in asking: “What will happen to the future freedoms of Afghan women?”. Since the Taliban has taken over, the atrocities that women are facing in Afghanistan are heartbreaking and unjust. As a human and an artist, and as an Afghan woman, I want to do my part in bringing awareness to women’s rights in Afghanistan through music. The reason why I left my song incomplete is that I wanted to tell the truth. The truth is the unfinished struggle of women. I will complete this song when all Afghan women have achieved their dreams and rights.
Dawn was composed by Meena Karimi in early 2020 and orchestrated by Arson Fahim.
– Meena Karimi, June 2022