Violinist Mikhail Simonyan Reaches Out to Afghanistan
Launches Beethoven Not Bullets for students national music institute
Reflecting on his own upbringing in post-Cold War Russia, violinist Mikhail Simonyan has launched Beethoven Not Bullets to assist students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. The initiative will bring instruments to the school as well as give each of the top 25 students $360 for one year of tuition and living expenses. At press time, Simonyan had been planning a New York benefit recital and a trip to Kabul, where he’ll deliver instruments and prepare for a two-week residency in 2011.
“I was growing up when the Soviet Union collapsed and the country was very much new,” he says. “Nothing was going on there. All the major teachers had left abroad—because finally they could—and the conservatories didn’t have any finances and the schools didn’t have money to pay for teachers. It was pretty much a disaster.”
Simonyan attributes his success to the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra, which gave him experience and a shot as a soloist. Now Edythe M. Holbrook, founding president of the ARYAO, is overseeing Beethoven Not Bullets. Those interested in sponsoring a child’s tuition at ANIM or making a donation of musical instruments can contact Holbrook at firstname.lastname@example.org.