Critical acclaim for The Lion of Panjshir

“A stirring tribute. . . .Mixed meters, ethnic rhythms, and melodic passages are carefully crafted to flow seamlessly with the narration. . . .a captivating performance. . . .Audience members wept after a chilling account of Massoud’s death in the third movement, punctuated by explosive chords and a shocking silence. . . .Gaines has achieved a milestone in the canon of symphonic band literature with a substantial work that transcends cultural barriers.”
— Grace Jean, Washington Post

“. . . .the dancing second movement, propelled by colorful percussion writing, evokes Middle Eastern/Central Asian musical idioms with particular panache. . . .Throughout, Gaines demonstrates a keen affinity for orchestration. Woodwinds and brass are vividly exploited; percussion applied with as much subtlety as power. This piece, warmly received by an audience that included members of the Afghan embassy in Washington and U.N. mission in New York, certainly fulfills its mission of homage.”
— Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

“The February 11, 2004 world premiere of The Lion of Panjshir, a symphony about Ahmad Shah Massoud composed by Dr. David Gaines, was a great success for all lovers of peace and prosperity. . . .The images of Massoud, and the mujahedeen he is the apex of, can speak to us all in a very real, down to earth, yet spiritually uplifting way. Now we have a symphonic account of them to savor as well.”
— Omaid Weekly (the international weekly newspaper for the Afghan community)

“I cannot imagine a more powerful mix of words, images, and music than The Lion of Panjshir. People who know nothing of Massoud or Afghanistan will be stunned by the sheer power of the composition, and people who are familiar with these topics will be reduced to tears. It is a tremendous piece of work.”
— Sebastian Junger, journalist/author, “A Death In Belmont,” “Fire,” “The Perfect Storm”

“[The Lion of Panjshir] indeed a powerful experience, and certainly one of the finest works of its kind in a long, long time.”
— Kevin Scott, Director, SUNY Orange Symphonic Band

“The premiere of The Lion of Panjshir ranks among my most memorable nights at Peabody. The emotional impact was extraordinary. I think you have written a wonderful piece of music.”
— Anne Garside, former Director of Public Information, Peabody Institute

“. . . .an emotional occasion. . . .the narration gained a deeply moving authenticity by being spoken by a man who had himself fought with Massoud."
— Peabody News