Aga Khan Music Initiative
The Performance and Outreach Programme presents Central Asian musical traditions to audiences worldwide, helping to build relationships between musicians from Central Asia and a global network of music-presenting institutions.
Since its inception in 2002, the International Performance and Outreach Programme has produced numerous concerts in Europe, the United States, Africa and selected countries in Asia. Before the Music Initiative began its work, concerts of music from Central Asia were rare in Europe and North America. Typically restricted to small venues frequented by audiences whose focus was specifically “world music, the choice of musicians tended to be haphazard, and the quality of the concerts uneven.
This Programme works to professionalise the presentation of Central Asian music by using its curatorial expertise to select outstanding performers, develop innovative concert productions and organise worldwide concert tours that include numerous educational outreach activities: workshops and master classes, university lecture-demonstrations and residencies, children’s programmes and community events, museum presentations and documentary film screenings.
Performance venues are chosen with the aim of reaching new audiences of diverse profiles and age groups, and concert programmes are designed to provide a cultural context for the music that is performed. Short documentary films projected in concert venues introduce audiences to the featured musicians, and to the communities in which they live and work. Supertitles with translations of song lyrics, live video feeds displaying close-up images of the musicians and their instruments, and video scenography projected on large panels at the rear of the stage are among the visual aids that have enhanced recent concerts.
For arts presenters, the Performance and Outreach Programme offers an opportunity to enrich and diversify their music programming, and to broaden their audience base. For the Music Initiative, collaborating with established arts presenters helps to acquaint international audiences with the music of Central Asia, and to promote respect for the musicians and traditions they represent within Central Asia itself by presenting some of the region’s finest musicians in prestigious concert venues around the world. Moreover, each concert tour seeds new connections among the musicians themselves.
An example of such a tour was “Via Kaboul: Central Asia without Borders”, which began with a sold-out concert at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, co-produced by the Opera and the Music Initiative. During the two-week-tour artists from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan all became enthusiastic participants in a process of spontaneous inter-regional cultural exchange. Their late-night jam sessions and conversations not only helped stimulate new artistic visions, but inspired the musicians to delve more deeply into their own traditions.
The next priority for the Performance and Outreach Programme is to develop an infrastructure for regional touring within Central Asia itself. To create an active and self-sustaining concert touring mechanism, the Music Initiative plans to collaborate with local governments and NGOs as well as with its own network of music schools, and with other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network.
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