Collaboration with the Silk Road Project - Aga Khan Music Initiative - AKDN
Aga Khan Development Network

Collaboration with the Silk Road Project: Yo-Yo Ma and Silk Road Ensemble Perform in Central Asia in Collaboration with Aga Khan Music Initiative

The Initiative's creative partnership with the Silk Road Project began in 2000 and has since resulted in festivals, concert tours, recordings and innovative collaborations. The Silk Road Project and its performance unit, the Silk Road Ensemble, both founded and directed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, is devoted to exploring musical tradition as a resource for innovation and creativity.

The Silk Road Project has a vision of connecting the world's neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences around the globe.The Silk Road Project has a vision of connecting the world's neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences around the globe. In 2003 AKMI presented Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in a nine-day concert tour of Central Asia featuring concerts and workshops in Bishkek, Almaty, and Dushanbe. The partnership has recently been extended to develop multimedia programmes for a new “Museum Initiative” in which works of visual art join traditions of oral literature and world music through performances, exhibitions, and educational events in some of the world's leading museums.

Newly-created multimedia programmes have been presented at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts in January 2004, and, most recently, at the British Library in London, accompanying the exhibition “The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith”. Visit The Silk Road Project website

Introduction to Silk Road Ensemble Tour and the Aga Khan Music Initiative
Between 26 April and 2 May 2003, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble conducted master classes and performed at concerts in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, as part of a broad programme undertaken by the Aga Khan Music Initiative to preserve and promote traditional music. Following critically acclaimed concerts in North America and Europe, Yo-Yo Ma and the Ensemble brought their unique fusion of ancient Silk Road traditions and western classical music to the heart of the Silk Road.

The Silk Road Project is led by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in coordination with a distinguished team of scholars, musicians and artists from around the world. Programmes in Central Asia feature Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble - a collective of musicians whose careers encompass classical, folk and pop music - performing specially commissioned pieces by composers from Silk Road countries including China, Mongolia, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Masterpieces from Western composers inspired by the arts and music of the East will also be performed.

The concerts and master classes are part of efforts by the Silk Road Project and the Aga Khan Music Initiative to promote and preserve the music of Central Asia. These efforts have become more urgent as the rapid modernization of traditional societies in the region continues to have a profound impact on the music and how it is taught. In Central Asia, music of great antiquity is still passed - by oral transmission - from a handful of masters to small groups of students, but that tradition has become increasingly fragile.

To help ensure the preservation and transmission of Central Asia's musical heritage to a new generation of artists and audiences, the Aga Khan Music Initiative was established in 2000. The aim was to support efforts to revitalize traditional methods of music education and performance. The collaboration with the Silk Road Project, which began in 2001, has brought this heritage to the notice of audiences beyond the region - in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

The Initiative has taken a multi-faceted approach, emphasising preservation - through recordings and archiving - while promoting it through concerts in Central Asia and abroad. Preservation includes support for important musical tradition-bearers, as well as local music centres and schools.

From the beginning of the Music Initiative, His Highness the Aga Khan has insisted that the primary beneficiaries be the communities in the Silk Road countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan and other countries in the region. The purpose of such an approach is to ensure that resources and expertise contribute to the creation of cultural institutions that can be maintained and sustained by local communities themselves.

About the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
The Music Initiative is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Trust focuses on culture as a means of enhancing the physical, social and economic revitalisation of communities in the Islamic world. Its programmes include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Historic Cities Support Programme, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the on-line resource, the Music Initiative and the Museums & Exhibitions Unit. For more information about the Aga Khan Music Initiative, please click on the link.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, international, non-denominational agencies working to improve living conditions and opportunities for people in the developing world. The Network's organisations have individual mandates that range from the fields of health and education to architecture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. They collaborate in working towards a common goal - to build institutions and programmes that can respond to the challenges of social, economic and cultural change on an ongoing basis.

About the Silk Road Project
The Silk Road Project explores the cross-pollination of ideas, cultures, music and art that occurred along the ancient Silk Road-a vast network of trade routes that were active from the first millennium B.C. to the middle of the second millennium A.D. At its height, the Silk Road extended eastward from China and Japan and westward through the oasis cities of Central Asia-Kashgar, Samarkand and Bukhara-to Persia, Turkey, Greece and Italy, serving as a crucible for cultural innovation and the transmission of ideas.

The Silk Road Project promotes understanding of the ancient Silk Road and supports new innovative collaborations among artists from Asia, Europe and North America. The Project is led by Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma, who in the course of 25 years of performing in different parts of the world has become increasingly intrigued by the migration of ideas among communities. For more information on Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, please see the Silk Road Project home page.

Contact Information
To contact the Aga Khan Trust for Culture:
Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
1-3 avenue de la Paix
1202 Geneva
Tel : (+41 22) 909 7277
Fax : (+41 22) 909 7292

To contact The Silk Road Project:
Jean Davidson, Managing Director
Silk Road Project
New York, NY, USA
Tel: 1-212-727-1832

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