Elham Fanous (Age: 21)

Sponsor Elham Fanous

Elham Fanous is the leading Afghan pianist of his generation.  He aspires to become one of the leading pianists in the world. Music is his passion, and playing piano is his life.

The 20-year-old Kabul native attends the prestigious Hunter College Bachelor of Music Program in New York City on a full scholarship.  He has been interviewed on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition by host Renee Montagne, and is the subject of a German  television documentary.

Elham trained at the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM), studying piano performance, composition, and music theory as well as a full range of academic subjects.  Supported by the World Bank, the US State Department and NATO, ANIM is the first post-Taliban music school in the country, a place where boys and girls can study eastern and western musical traditions together.

Elham has gone on to win third prize at the Golden Key Piano Competition in Frankfurt.  As a member of the Afghan Youth Orchestra, he performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Carnegie Hall in New York City, where he played Chopin's Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor with the renowned Russian violinist Mikhail Simonyan.  He also participated in a piano festival in Poland, and has performed in Holland and Italy. He has performed for former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and international dignitaries in Kabul.

Elham is also a composer, and has composed five pieces of his own, including four preludes and a sonata, which he and his teachers have performed internationally.

It is difficult to imagine a world without music and art. But that’s what some extremists want for Afghanistan.  Elham’s piano career is dedicated to ensuring that  musicians in Afghanistan will not be intimidated nor silenced by the extremists. His life’s work is to provide hope to other musicians and artists who may be living under threats to their creative expression all around the world.

Since arriving in the U.S. for full-time study in the fall of 2015, he has played solo recitals at the Time Warner Center under the auspices of the NYU Forum on Law, Culture, and Society, the Afghan Embassy in Washington, DC, Women for Afghan Women, and the Hebrew Home in Riverdale’s Sunday concert series. In addition to that, he recently won the concerto competition at Hunter College.  His repertoire includes Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin, his specialty.