Fund drive to bring Afghan musician to U.S. school is near its goal

David Bilger , principal trumpeter for the Philadelphia Orchestra, watches a video of AhmadBaset Azizi. ANDREW RENNEISEN

The campaign to bring a young Afghan trumpeter from Kabul to the United States to study music has made significant process, and is a little less than $4,000 from reaching its goal.

AhmadBaset Azizi's online fund drive has raised about $8,000 since Sunday's Inquirer story detailing his online studies with Philadelphia Orchestra principal trumpeter David Bilger, as well as efforts to bring Azizi to Interlochen Arts Academy in northwest Michigan for intensive music study as a high school senior.

The campaign has raised a little more than $26,000 toward its $30,000 goal. Generosity has expressed itself in forms beyond cash. Supporters have pledged a laptop computer, two trumpets, several new trumpet mutes, valve oil, printed trumpet etudes and studies, and even offers of airline miles.

"The amount of support has been overwhelming," Bilger said. "People have given as they are able - from $5 to $5,000. Each gift, regardless of size, is another step toward the goal of helping Baset to realize his dream." The number of donations - now more than 130 - "has sent Baset a clear message that people care," Bilger said.

Azizi attends the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, where musicians face threats by the Taliban and other groups hostile to Western music.

The 17-year-old said he wanted donors to know how thankful he is for the "timely financial assistance given to me at this hour of need. With this money I shall study hard and become a professional musician. You are lighting up my life. Your gifts put a smile on my face."