Cara tunes up with Afghan Women’s Orchestra

A teenage musician and peace ambassador from Co Tyrone who has batted a heart condition since birth has teamed up with members of the Afghan Women’s Orchestra during the pandemic to star in a collaboration music video with the support of the Community Relations Council.
Pictured with Cara is Darren Ferguson from Beyond Skin.Pictured with Cara is Darren Ferguson from Beyond Skin.
Pictured with Cara is Darren Ferguson from Beyond Skin.

Cara Monaghan features on a video with Afghanistan’s first women’s orchestra - also known as Ensemble Zohra - as part of an international partnership with local intercultural arts charity Beyond Skin which has seen current and former students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) teaming up with young female musicians in Northern Ireland

Young musician Cara (16) has been working with the organisation Beyond Skin ever since she met its founder, Darren Ferguson, while attending a summer scheme in Cookstown on music and peace building and wrote her own song ‘What If’ which ended up being performed by young musicians in Sri Lanka as part of a music project with Beyond Skin.

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The charity recruited Cara as a Youth4Peace ambassador, as part of a global initiative implementing the Youth Peace & Security UN Resolution 2250.

The teenager has battled health problems since birth, when she was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called pulmonary arteriovenous fistula which can shunt blood flow in the wrong direction around the body.

She underwent a series of lifesaving surgeries in the first months of her life and in P5 had major surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital for pectus excavatum, a hole in the breast bone.

It was at this stage that she developed her passion for music.

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As her musical skills have developed, Cara has been taking part in more and more performances and has been working closely with Darren on Beyond Skin projects, including partnerships with groups and musicians in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Colombia, Palestine and Israel.

The Beyond Skin collaboration work with the Afghan Women’s Orchestra started in 2016 when Darren met Dr Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, and invited him to Northern Ireland where he was a guest speaker at the Conversations Festival in Mount Stewart where he also met Cara.

Cara performs on the collaboration song based on the tune of ‘In Gham be Haya’ and says she is thrilled to have teamed up with professional musicians for so many peace-building projects.

“It was really nice to meet Darren and he has got me involved with so many things,” she said. “I’ve really loved it and I loved playing with the orchestra.”