The Kennedy Center

Qais Essar


Qais Essar is an international artist, composer, producer, and experienced live performer who carries on the traditional legacy of classical Afghan instrumentation as established by Ustad Mohammad Omar Khan. A student of not only both classical and traditional forms but western music as well, Essar is able to also present the Rabab with a fresh new perspective. In composition, he strives to bring the age-old Rabab into the 21st century, in an innovative fashion. Essar has collaborated with many prominent artists and masters covering the musical spectrum, performing domestically and internationally. His first LP, The Green Language (2014), was a #1 bestseller on Amazon. His second LP, Tavern of Ruin, was released in July, 2016.

Watch Past Performances

Video 5/5/2017: Tear a Root from the Earth

Tear a Root from the Earth is a new musical that unites American and Afghan folk music to tell the story of multiple generations of one family in Afghanistan. Composed by American diplomat Johnny Walsh and Afghan rabab virtuoso Qais Essar, the piece creates an innovative musical vocabulary to tell a story never before seen on the American stage. Join Essar, celebrated folk band Gramophonic, and special guests for an exciting concert performance of selections from the musical.

Presented in partnership with the Embassy of Afghanistan.

  Qais Essar