Musical group that escaped Taliban to perform in Williamsburg this week

The Fanoos Family Ensemble is coming to Williamsburg this week.

The band has an inspiring story. Its members, composed of the renowned musical Fanoos family, fled to the U.S. under threats from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Keyboardist Elham Fanoos, 25, was born at a time when music was strictly banned by the Taliban. His father, Ahmad Fanoos – a talented singer and musician – had to practice in secrecy.

“That was a really hard time,” Elham told NPR, “even though in Afghanistan everyone is really not safe, but especially musicians.”

By the time Elham was five, the Taliban had been driven out of the country. His father encouraged him to learn the piano, and the two soon began performing together. 

Ahmad ultimately rose to fame and starred as a talent judge on the TV show “Afghan Star.” A household name, he became the target of threats when the Taliban regained control in 2021. In August of that year, the Taliban left an ominous letter on Ahmad’s instrument case, warning him to stop playing music – or else.

Ahmad and his whole family of six were soon successfully evacuated with help from the Fox television network, which was affiliated with the “Afghan Star” TV show. The family has now found freedom in the U.S., and Ahmad and his son are performing music together again.

You can catch the band live at the Williamsburg Regional Library on Friday, March 3, at 7:00 pm. The concert is part of William & Mary’s spring Ewell Concert Series, and tickets are free.

Some other events to highlight for this week include a “Revolutionary Women” performance by nationally-known storyteller Darci Tucker at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown (Saturday) and the One City Marathon in Newport News (this weekend).

There will also be several outdoor markets this weekend, including another Yorktown Winter Market and the return of the Williamsburg Farmers Market and the Toano Open Air Market.


The Fanoos Family Ensemble will perform at the Williamsburg Regional Library on Friday, March 4 at 7:00 pm. The concert will feature songs in the Afghan classical style with infusions of Persian poetry, Hindustani rhythms and Central Asian Harmonies. The music will be performed on traditional Afghan and classical Western instruments. (Photo by the Fanoos Family Ensemble)

This Week’s Events

Tuesday, Feb. 28


  • Art House Café Film Series: Jerry and Marge Go Large – Williamsburg Library Theatre (Williamsburg). This film series brings an art house flavor to your Tuesdays while allowing you to hear from special guests, enjoy light refreshments and have a discussion after the film. This week’s featured film is Jerry and Marge Go Large (2022; PG-13). 2:00 – 3:40 pm. 

Game Night

  • Dungeons & Dragons – Tabb Library (Williamsburg). Attend an evening of Dungeons & Dragons at Tabb Library. You can start a new ongoing campaign or take part in a one-shot campaign. Light refreshments will be provided. Registration is recommended. For new and experienced players 18+. 6:00 – 8:00 pm. 

Wednesday, March 1


  • The Art of the Stuff Maker – Hennage Auditorium (Colonial Williamsburg). This program offers an introduction to women’s shoes in the late 18th century. You’ll discover the popular fashions and construction techniques that made women’s shoemaking a separate branch of the trade. Requires Art Museum admission or a Good Neighbor pass. 4:30 – 5:15 pm. 


  • Annie – Ferguson Center (Newport News). See a performance of one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Annie, at the Ferguson Center. This performance is directed by Jenn Thompson and written by Tony Award-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. The show runs 2 hours 45 minutes, including one intermission. Tickets range from $50-$70 and are available online. 7:30 pm. 

Thursday, March 2


  • Throwback Thursday Film Series: “Zeppelin” –  Williamsburg Library Theatre (Williamsburg). This film series features a variety of contemporary and classic movies for an adult audience. This week’s featured film is Zeppelin (1971; G). 2:00 – 3:45 pm. 

Live Music

  • St. David’s Day Recital – Bruton Parish Church (Williamsburg). Enjoy an evening of music from Wales during this celebration of St. David’s Day. This performance is presented by organist JanEl Will, soprano Sarah Taylor, tenor George Revill, and clarinetist Diana Ruffer. 8:00 – 9:00 pm. 

Friday, March 3


  • Makerspace: DIY Macrame Leaf – James City County Library (Williamsburg). Make an easy macrame leaf you can use to decorate your home. For ages 13 through adult. Call to register. 2:00 pm. 


  • Good Stories about Great Stuff – Hennage Auditorium (Colonial Williamsburg). Every object in the Hennage Auditorium’s collection has an interesting history. In this program, a curator, educator or conservator will explore the back story of a different object every week. Requires Art Museum admission or a Good Neighbor pass. 10:30 – 11:15 am. 
  • Union Wooden Fleet in Hampton Roads – The Mariners’ Museum and Park (Newport News). John V. Quarstein, Director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, will present a lecture about the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which was headquartered in Hampton Roads. $1 for in-person attendance for guests; free to live stream online. Advance registration is required. 


  • Teen After Hours: Middle School – Tabb Library (Yorktown). Middle schoolers in grades 6-8 are invited to this special game night. 5:30 – 6:30 pm. 
  • Teen After Hours: High School – Tabb Library (Yorktown). Teens in grades 9-12 are invited to play board games and Switch games. 7:00 – 8:00 pm. 

Live Music

  • Fanoos Family Band – Williamsburg Library (Williamsburg). The Fanoos Family Ensemble was re-established in 2022 after its members flew to freedom in the US from Taliban threats. The renowned musical group performs music in the Aghan style, at the crossroads of Persian poetry, Hindustani rhythms, and Central Asian harmonies. Free and open to the public; good for all ages. No ticket is required. 7:00 pm. 
  • Kelly Rossum Modern Big Band – Ferguson Center (Newport News). This high-energy concert features Kelly Rossum, an international trumpet artist, improviser and composer. You’ll be treated to a full, modern big band composed of some of the best musicians on the east coast. $20. 8:00 pm. 
  • Dead Rise – The Cowboy Sport Grill (Yorktown). Dead Rise will perform acoustic songs of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. 8:00 pm – 12:00 am. 

Saturday, March 4


  • Williamsburg Farmers Market – Merchants Square (Williamsburg). Find a variety of local products – including seasonal produce, meats, seafood, baked goods, honey, cheese, cut flowers, handmade soaps and more – offered by more than 40 vendors. 8:00 – 12:00 pm. 
  • Hilton Farmers Market – Historic Hilton Village (Williamsburg). Shop for goods from local farmers and bakers at Historic Hilton Village. 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. 
  • Toano Open Air Market – 7891 Richmond Road (Toano). The Toano Open Air Market will kick off for the season on Saturday, March 5, 2023. Shop for a variety of items from local farmers, artists and artisans. 
  • Yorktown Market Days: Winter Market – Get out and enjoy the winter sunshine at Riverwalk Landing’s Yorktown Winter Market. Shop for locally grown, produced and crafted products from your favorite vendors and artists. You’ll find baked goods, prepared soups, gourmet chocolates, homemade candles, dog treats and more. 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. 


  • Sewing Saturday: Rope Baskets – Abram Frink Jr. Community Center (Williamsburg). Students will sew their own decorative rope basket made from rope and fabric strips. Supplies are provided, including a sewing machine, but attendees are encouraged for bring their own sewing machine. 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. 
  • Intro to iPhone Photography Workshop with Caroline Maryan – Arts on Main (Gloucester). Learn tips and tricks for improving your iPhone photography during this hands-on workshop led by Caroline Maryan. Maryan is a travel photographer, blogger and member artist of the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center. 1:00 – 4:00 pm. $50. 

Kids & Families

  • Imagination Movers – American Theatre (Hampton). Enjoy a high-energy, interactive musical performance by the Imagination Movers. The internationally-acclaimed group delivers witty lyrics and eclectic pop to encourage creativity and personal growth in young minds. Tickets are $35. 2:00 pm. 
  • Campfire Social – Chickahominy Riverfront Park (Williamsburg). Gear up for spring with a good old-fashioned campfire gathering at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. You’ll enjoy s’mores, activities, storytelling and more around the campfire. Weather permitting. Free. 5:30 – 6:30 pm.


  • Gardening for Pollinators – James City County Library (Williamsburg). Learn gardening techniques, including planting strategies and how to attract butterflies to your yard. This program is taught by Adrienne Frank, a member of the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists and the John Clayton Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. 11:00 am.
  • Getting Started in Beekeeping – Tabb Library (Yorktown). Learn how to bring the magic of nature into your own yard by beekeeping. You’ll learn what’s involved in being a beekeeper, how much it costs and what steps to take to get started. 1:00 – 2:00 pm. 


  • Darci Tucker: Revolutionary Women – American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (Yorktown). Nationally-known storyteller and playwright Darci Tucker portrays three different people in her acclaimed one-woman show, Revolutionary Women. She’ll explore the issues and events that led to the American Revolution and highlight women’s contributions to the war effort. Call the museum for additional information. 3:00 – 5:00 pm. 


  • Author Talk: Hernan Diaz – Williamsburg Library (Williamsburg). Attend an author talk featuring Hernan Diaz, an award-winning author whose novels have been translated into thirty-four languages. 3:00 – 4:30 pm.

Live Music

  • Joe’s Day Off – Toano Open Air Market (Toano). Head out to the Toano Open Air Market and enjoy live music by Joe’s Day Off from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.  
  • Historic Organ Recital: Norman Elton – Wren Chapel (Williamsburg). Enjoy a performance on the Historic English Chamber Organ by Norman Elton, organist at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. 10:00 – 10:30 am.
  • Accordion Recital & Reception – Jazzercise Studio, 455 Merrimac Trail (Williamsburg). Accordion lovers and enthusiasts are invited to an accordian recital and reception on Saturday, March 4th at 1:00 PM, sponsored by the Accordion Renaissance music club. The concert will last from 1:00 to 1:30 and the reception from 1:30 until 3:00 PM. The recital will be by the Accordion Renaissance Quartet, featuring four young adults who will perform a variety of musical styles arranged for an accordion quartet. This event is free. Following the recital will be a reception during which attendees are welcome to perform their latest piece.  Beginners are encouraged to attend and perform. One of the goals of Accordion Renaissance is to increase the number of youth and adult accordion players. For more information, contact David Gussman.
Local music club Accordion Renaissance performs during the holiday season. The group will be hosting a free accordion recital and reception on Saturday, March 4, beginning at 1:00 pm. Accordion lovers and enthusiasts, including beginners, are encouraged to attend. (Photo courtesy of Accordion Renaissance)
  • 8th Annual Ladies in Red Concert – Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center (Newport News). Myra Smith-Jones will host this annual celebration of women making a difference in Hampton Roads and beyond. Several women of various ages will be honored for their work to make the world a better place. There will also be vocal performances featuring R&B, gospel and more. Tickets are $15. 6:00 pm.
  • Flute, Oboe, and Organ Recital – Bruton Parish Church (Williamsburg). Attend a candlelight concert at a beautiful historic church, presented by Flutist Chris Ertell, Oboist George Pavelis, and Organist Cheryl Van Ornam from Richmond, Virginia. 8:00 – 9:00 pm. 
  • Virginia Shellphish Coalition – Strangeways Brewing (Williamsburg). Enjoy acoustic tunes by the Virginia Shellphish Coalition. 6:00 – 9:00 pm. 

Sunday, March 5


  • Nature Apps: Citizen Science at Your Fingertips – Tabb Library (Yorktown). Join Certified Master Naturalist from the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, Mary Jo (MJ) OBryan to learn about free apps you can download to more accurately observe the natural world. Bring a fully charged smartphone, iPad or Tablet. 1:30 – 3:00 pm. 


  • Jewish Film Festival: “The Un-Word” – Williamsburg Library (Williamsburg). This film is part of the Virginia Peninsula Jewish Film Festival Winter Series. This week’s featured film is “The Un-Word” (2020; NR). In German with English subtitles. See the website for a description. 2:00 – 3:30 pm. 


One City Marathon

  • Newport News One City Marathon Weekend – Newport News. The Newport News One City Marathon returns for its 9th year and includes a Half and Full Marathon, Maritime 5K and Nautical Mile Fun Run. The Marathon Weekend will take place March 3-5. Two One City Marathon celebrations will also be held at Tradition Brewing Co. – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Both events are open to the public. For details, click here.


  • Hampton Restaurant Week – Hampton. Hampton Restaurant Week returns March 5-19. Support local restaurants and savor a variety of local faire. Specials include $10 and $15 lunches and $25 and $35 dinners. See the website for a full list of participating restaurants.


  • The Bridges of Madison County – Peninsula Community Theatre (Newport News). This performance is set in America’s heartland and features a soaring score and heartbreaking story. See the website for a full description. Feb. 24 – Mar. 12 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm). Tickets can be purchased online and are $20 for general admission; $17 for senior/military and $12 for students. 

Kids & Families 

  • Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Days 2023 – Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg will be offering discounted rates and special programming for homeschoolers and their families, Feb. 25-March 5, 2023. For additional details, click here

Tax Help

  • Free Tax Prep Help – Multiple Locations. Free tax preparation services are available for those who qualify through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Tax Counseling for the Elderly, now through mid-April. To find a free tax preparation service near you, visit this website and enter your zip code. In Williamsburg, AARP Tax Aide is also available at the Williamsburg Library and at Fire Station #1, Feb. 1 – April 15. VITA tax preparation services are available Tuesday and Thursday (1-5:30 pm) and Saturdays (9 am – 1:30 pm) at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kids Club Building 17 Near the Visitors Center. Click here for additional details.
The One City Marathon returns to Newport News for its 9th year this weekend, March 3-5. (Photo courtesy of the City of Newport News)

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