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Music Initiative Releases Three New Volumes of Music of Central Asia CD-DVD Series



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Music of Central Asia
, the Aga Khan Music Initiative’s panoramic 10-volume audio-visual survey of contemporary tradition-based music from Central Eurasia, has added volumes 7, 8, and 9 to the series. The new CD-DVD sets expand the scope of Music of Central Asia both geographically and conceptually – by encompassing different regions of Uzbekistan as well as India and by showcasing the Music Initiative’s cross-cultural collaborations, featuring, among others, the Kronos Quartet, Alim Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi.

“The new CD-DVDs encompass key traditional music repertoires, but they also are about pursuing regional and global cross-cultural collaborations that lead to promising new artistic work,” says Fairouz Nishanova, Director of the Music Initiative and co-producer of Music of Central Asia. “Preservation carries a tradition so far; to keep it alive – to revitalise it – music needs to explore other traditions even while it stays connected to its identity and heritage.”

Volumes 7, 8 and 9 of the CD-DVD releases of the Music of Central Asia series, produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways. Photo: AKTCVolume 7, In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular Classics from Bukhara and Beyond, focuses on musical life in Uzbekistan and northern Tajikistan, where generations of Uzbek and Tajik singer-songwriters bequeathed a remarkable legacy of lyrical ballads, devotional songs, and instrumental pieces to the gifted master-musicians who perform on the CD. Rooted in the sophisticated urban song traditions of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Qoqand, and Khiva, these popular classics come alive in superbly recorded new performances.

Volumes 7, 8 and 9 of the CD-DVD releases of the Music of Central Asia series, produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways. Photo: AKTCVolume 8, Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi, is the first release to emerge from an ongoing collaboration between the Music Initiative and the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet. In its mission to revitalise and assure the onward transmission of musical traditions in regions where they are endangered, the Music Initiative came to understand that cultivating creative processes which lead to artistic innovation and evolution is as important as conserving links to the past. Kronos’s long experience in creating new music – oftentimes with artists from other cultures who didn’t share a common musical lexicon of terms and concepts –offers a successful model of how to do such work.

The new works that premiere on Rainbow feature artists who have appeared on previous Music of Central Asia releases: Alim & Fargana Qasimov, and Homayun Sakhi. Sakhi’s “Rangin Kaman” (“Rainbow” in Persian), a twenty-eight-minute composition for Afghan rubab, string quartet, and percussion, was created in response to a commission from the Aga Khan Music Initiative and the Columbia Foundation. The string quartet parts, which Sakhi composed on a Casio synthesizer, were arranged for Kronos by Stephen Prutsman, a long-time Kronos collaborator. The second part of Rainbow presents five Azerbaijani songs performed by Alim and Fargana Qasimov, Kronos Quartet, and the Qasimovs’ own quartet of instrumentalists, who play tar, kamancha, balaban, and naghara. These songs come from the Qasimovs’ large repertoire of traditional popular music, and were arranged first by Alim Qasimov and subsequently by American performer-composer-arranger Jacob Garchik, who created the string quartet parts.

Volumes 7, 8 and 9 of the CD-DVD releases of the Music of Central Asia series, produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways. Photo: AKTCVolume 9, In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals, represents a modern-day encore of the remarkable artistic synthesis cultivated by the emperors who ruled the Mughal Dynasty, founded at the beginning of the 16th century by Babur. Inspired by visual images and literary descriptions of exuberant music-making in the Mughal courts, the Music Initiative brought together musicians from Afghanistan, India, and Tajikistan with the aim of merging their talents, traditions, and musical instruments to create new sounds. Featured artists are Indian santur virtuoso Rahul Sharma and Afghan rubab master Homayun Sakhi, accompanied by the talented young Afghan-American tabla player Salar Nader. On several tracks, Sakhi also performs with two leading young musicians from Tajikistan, Dushanbe-based dutar player Sirojiddin Juraev, and Badakhshani setar player Mukhtor Muboraqkadomov, both of whom have appeared on previous Music of Central Asia releases.

“The new CD-DVDs encompass key traditional music repertoires, but they also are about pursuing regional and global cross-cultural collaborations that lead to promising new artistic work,” says Fairouz Nishanova, Director of the Music Initiative and co-producer of Music of Central Asia. “Preservation carries a tradition so far; to keep it alive – to revitalise it – music needs to explore other traditions even while it stays connected to its identity and heritage.”

Music Initiative consultant Theodore Levin, the CD-DVD series’ other co-producer, added: “The artists on these recordings are all in their own way innovators, and their musical curiosity and eagerness to share their artistry with diverse audiences places them firmly in a global and cosmopolitan artistic community at the same time that they remain connected to a sense of place and tradition.”

Like preceding volumes of Music of Central Asia, each new release includes extensive liner notes and photos as well as a DVD with a documentary film that contextualizes the featured musicians in their own social and musical world. The DVDs also include an interactive musical instrument glossary and a map.

Music of Central Asia may be purchased through the Smithsonian Folkways website (http://www.folkways.si.edu ) or through major on-line music retailers. 

For press enquiries, please contact:

Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
1-3 avenue de la Paix
1202 Geneva
Tel. (+41 22) 909 7200
Email: info@akdn.org
www.akdn.org/music

Richard James Burgess
Director of Marketing and Sales
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Smithsonian Global Sound
Email: BurgessR@si.edu  
Ph: 202 633 6452
Fx: 202 633 6474
www.folkways.si.edu 
www.smithsonianglobalsound.org

 

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