The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will highlight Afghan music and culture during its performances in November

Alexandria Symphony at the George Washington Masonic Memorial (Photo credit: PJ 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 the musical epic “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, derived from four stories taken from “One Thousand and One Nights”, a collection of ancient tales from the Middle East. Scheherazade as Queen of the Sultan is portrayed by the solo violin, her haunting and exotic melody weaving throughout the piece as each story is told. “Adventures on Earth” by John Williams from “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” opens this adventurous program.

Two new Alexandrians from Afghanistan – Hamid Habib Zada ​​and Negin Khpalwak – bring their artistry to the ASO scene through these performances. The musicians recently moved to Alexandria after fleeing Afghanistan in the fall of 2021. Hamid is featured on tabla (a pair of hand drums from the Indian subcontinent) for Dinuk Wijeratne’s Concerto Tabla. Negin will conduct two songs by Afghan “Elvis”, Ahmad Zahir: Farwardin and Zindegi Akhair Sarayat.


Hamid has played tabla throughout Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the United States, most recently performing at Lincoln Center as part of Summer in the City. He taught music in Herat and studied at the Agha Khan School of Music and the Afghan Institute of Music in Kabul.


Negin is the first Afghan conductor to conduct Zohra, the first all-female orchestra in Afghan history. She performed with Zohra in India and Europe and the United States playing the sarod (a Hindustani stringed instrument). She remains deeply connected to her colleagues and to the plight of women in Afghanistan today.

Thanks to a generous contribution from Walmart’s Community Grants Program, free tickets will be provided to Afghan refugees to attend Saturday’s show. Walmart stores 5753 and 2194, both located in Alexandria, played a leading role.

“The plight of those who arrive from Afghanistan with nothing but clothes on their backs and the terrifying twist of fate for Afghan women has called for an artistic and humane response,” said music director James Ross. “Hamid and Negin come from a culture where making music can be a life or death decision. We are honored to see them join the ASO in pieces that embody the richness of oriental 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, One Thousand and One Nights

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

WILLIAMS: Adventures on Earth

ZAHIR: Farwardin and Zindegi Akhair Sarayat

WIJERATEN: Concerto for tabla

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 students (with valid ID). Buy at or call 703-548-0885.

Free parking provided by the ASO at both sites. 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 the DASH AT6 bus line. The George Washington Masonic Memorial is accessible by the Blue and Yellow Metro Line (King Street Station), many Metro, DASH and Richmond Highway Express bus lines, and the King Street Trolley in Old Town Alexandria.

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