Afghan Women’s Orchestra at the Sheldonian – Somerville Chorus

17th March 2019

On 17 March Ensemble Zohra, the first-ever all-female orchestra from Afghanistan, will perform in the Sheldonian Theatre side-by-side with the professional musicians of the Orchestra of St John’s, and students from the University of Oxford and Oxfordshire County Music Service. We are organising a large, all-ages Somerville Chorus to sing a special piece with the orchestra, Zanane sarbuland, written especially for the orchestra for International Women’s Day.

You are invited to come and sing!

The vocal part is all in unison/octaves and should be accessible for most people. The text is in Dari (Afghan Persian), however, so we’ll need a little preparation! John Lubbock, the music director of the Orchestra of St John’s, will rehearse the chorus. The performance will be conducted by Negin Khpolwak of Ensemble Zohra.

A link to a YouTube video of a previous performance, the sheet music and pronunciation guide can be downloaded here.


16 March*       2-4pm, Somerville College Chapel (chorus only)

17 March         2-3pm, Sheldonian Theatre basement (chorus only)

3-3.30pm, Sheldonian Theatre (with orchestra)

5pm Concert (this will be the final piece on an hour-long concert)

*Depending on your specific circumstances, it may not be necessary for you to be present for the 16 March rehearsal.

This event is part of the Ensemble Zohra’s week-long residency at Somerville College. Visit for more information about all of the exciting events surrounding this historic visit.

If you’d like to join the chorus, please fill out this brief registration form as soon as possible, but not later than 4 March.

Please contact Dr Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey if you have any further questions. She can be reached at

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