Sensational Sightless Sound

An extraordinary Egyptian orchestra is shattering stereotypes about people with disabilities across the Middle East and the world.

The Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra, translated from Arabic as “The Chamber Orchestra of Light and Hope” is an entire ensemble of blind and vision impaired women.
Established in 1971, the group plays Western classical music, modern Oriental music, and traditional Arabic music, delighting audiences with their talent, passion, and versatility.

The women are part of an Egyptian female boarding school for the blind and visually impaired. Established in 1954, the idea for an orchestra was a way to give the girls a musical education.
The school worked with the nearby Cairo Conservatory, adapting classical musical training for its students. They begin by training girls as young as ten to play instruments and read music in Braille. Starting with just 15 students four decades ago, the orchestra has grown to over 60 musicians—split into two ensembles.

Since they can’t see the music, nor the conductor, members must memorize the notes and their conductor’s instructions. As they play, they rely on listening and intuition to keep the orchestra on track throughout the entire piece.
The results have stunned audiences across the world, proving that here, there is no disability.

“The girls are very talented, devoted, and punctual,” says conductor Mohamed Saad Basha, who has worked with the orchestral for the past six years. “They can play a whole opera show of two acts while dancers and actors perform on stage at grand halls in Egypt and France, which is not easy. The warm welcome we receive sometimes moves us to tears.”

The orchestra’s have performed in more than 25 countries, including Austria, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan and Greece, enchanting the world with their music while gaining a new awareness, compassion and support for visually challenged people everywhere.