TODAY | February 09, 2013
>>> music has the power to bring people together in sometimes unexpected ways. andrea mitchell now with the story of a group of young musicians from a place you might not expect.
>> reporter: 13-year-old laila has been waiting two years for this moment.
>> reporter: the chance to perform on the world stage. while breaking another taliban taboo -- girls and boys playing music together. which do you like better, the drums or the trumpet? which is more fun?
>> the drums.
>> reporter: she's one of 48 young musicians who attend the only music school in afghanistan . where music was strictly banned under taliban rule.
>> reporter: many in the group are orphans by war. some even lived on the streets. today there are nearly -- they're near 7,000 miles from home, bringing traditional signs from their homeland --
>> reporter: and the tambore. mixed with the western harmonies they're also learning.
>> reporter: organizers hope the young musicians can learn about america and america can learn about afghanistan . music is making a comeback.
>> to the future afghanistan , show an afghanistan where the children of the country are, the future. and the hope is not dead.
>> reporter: how does it feel to be playing your music here in america ?
>> i think very well --
>> reporter: he played role of diplomat with others meeting the new secretary of state. once an amateur musician himself.
>> when i was your age, i played in a rock band .
>> reporter: their conductor, william harvey , a juliard-trained american violinist, has spent the last three years in kabul.
>> what i've done with the afghan youth orchestra is taken masterpieces like the "four seasons" and added afghan melodies, instruments, and folks songs.
>> reporter: the group has done improvisation of its own.
>> we were playing "stairway to heaven" which we're familiar with. and so it's fun.
>> reporter: the main event , performing thursday night on the stage of the kennedy center 's concert hall .
>> coming here has been the fulfillment of a long-time dream for us. the biggest reward is the smiles on these children's faces.