The Farsi word for "refuge" is "mohajer."
"It is a great privilege to add “Refuge” to Terezín Music Foundation’s commissions that honor silenced artists and voice the longing for freedom urgently felt across the world today. This piece is very close to my heart because it is the first string quartet written in the history of Afghanistan. In it I try to express our struggles and anxiety as refugees. In the middle section, there is a sanctuary moment which expresses hope and faith — but like our lives as Muslims and refugees it returns to sorrow. We always imagine a peaceful time that is about to come, but it never comes or if it comes it lasts for moments and is gone."
Milad Yousufi is composer of the TMF commission titled "Refuge," a string quartet which receives its world premiere at our Gala. He is a pianist, composer, conductor, poet, singer, painter, and calligrapher who is deeply inspired by his Afghan culture and heritage. He is the first Afghan-influenced western classical composer.
Mr. Yousufi was born in 1995 during the civil war in Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, music was completely banned. As a very young child, he painted the piano keyboard on paper to quietly practice. When Taliban rule was lifted, he took advantage of every opportunity to study music and art. At age twelve he was teaching painting and attending Kabul’s one music school, and he soon won an international piano competition in Germany and began performing internationally.
In Afghanistan, Mr. Yousufi taught piano, theory, and a course on Sibelius at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. When the Afghan Youth Orchestra was formed in 2011, he became the pianist and the first Afghan conductor, and he arranged music for their performances. The orchestra performed sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and New England Conservatory, where Mr. Yousufi performed as pianist.
Mr. Yousufi moved to the U.S., where he won a full scholarship to Mannes School of Music and studies piano with Simone Dinnerstein. He has composed Afghan-influenced music for The New York Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and The Refugee Orchestra Project, and he has additional commissions from the Kronos Quartet and Music Worcester.