The Aga Khan Master Musicians (AKMM)
The Aga Khan Master Musicians create music inspired by their own deep roots in the cultures of the Middle East and Mediterranean Basin, South Asia, Central Asia, and China. Brought together by the Aga Khan Music Programme to explore how musical innovation can contribute to the revitalisation of cultural heritage, the Master Musicians are venerated performers and composer-arrangers who appear on the world’s most prestigious stages while also serving as preeminent teachers, mentors, and curators.
Each of these exceptional artists has achieved mastery within a rigorous musical tradition defined by canonical styles, repertoires, pedagogy, and performance techniques. At the same time, they share a belief that tradition can serve as an invaluable compass for an artistic search into new forms of creativity inspired, but not constrained, by the past. This search has led to a strikingly original body of work composed, arranged, and performed by the Master Musicians, often joined by distinguished guests. Recent concerts have featured Kronos Quartet, Malian ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyaté, and the Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Orchestra.
YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9EAdztlwmPJzDzTAyvHpJfVT3TQJZzWP
Vimeo playlist: https://vimeo.com/showcase/5143325
Wu Man is an acclaimed performer on the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese lute with ancient roots that, due in large part to her efforts, has become a leading instrument of contemporary music in both East and West. Wu Man performs both traditional and contemporary music on the pipa, and many new works have been commissioned specially for her. She was a founding member of the Silk Road Ensemble, and has played an active role in cross-cultural music making, in particular with members of China’s Uyghur minority.
Basel Rajoub is a saxophonist and composer-improviser whose inspirations include traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and melodies as well as jazz. Born in Aleppo, Syria, he graduated from the Damascus High Institute of Music and creates new music that brings together musicians from the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and Europe. A winner of Radio Monte Carlo’s Moyen-Orient Music Award, Basel Rajoub divides his time between performing, teaching, composing, and recording. Currently based in Geneva, Basel performs as a member of several ensembles, and is the founding member of the Soriana Project.
Sirojiddin Juraev is a master performer on long-necked lutes from Central Asia. Born and raised near the ancient city of Khujand, in northern Tajikistan, Sirojiddin learned to play the two-stringed dutar as a child and later studied with the great Uzbek master Turgun Alimatov. As a student at the Dushanbe Academy of Maqom, created by the Aga Khan Music Initiative in 2003, Sirojiddin also studied tanbur and sato (bowed tanbur) with ustad Abduvali Abdurashidov. Sirojiddin is active as a composer and arranger, and has created a body of new virtuoso works for dutar, tanbur, and sato. He performs both as a soloist and as a member of several ensembles, including Soriana Project, the Academy of Maqom, and Tajikistan’s State Shashmaqom Ensemble.
Feras Charestan is from the city of Al-Hasakeh, in the northeast of Syria, and studied qanun at the High Institute of Music in Damascus. He has performed as a qanun soloist with symphony orchestras and has been a member of popular bands as well as contemporary music ensembles, creating new music rooted in Middle Eastern traditions. Feras Charestan currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden.
Abbos Kosimov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, into a musical family. A disciple of the honoured Uzbek doira player Tuychi Inogomov and winner of the Competition of Percussion Instruments of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, Kosimov established his own doira school in 1994 and his ensemble, “Abbos,” in 1998. Kosimov performs internationally with Zakir Hussain and Randy Gloss’s percussion group Hand’s OnSemble and recorded with Stevie Wonder.
Jasser Haj Youssef was born in Monastir, Tunisia and studied both classical European music and classical Arabic music (maqām) from an early age. His first instrument was the violin. Later he began playing the Baroque viola d’amore, which has sympathetic string that are not bowed, but create a rich, resonant sound. Haj Youssef’s professional career has merged his interests and talents in the improvisatory art of maqām, classical chamber and orchestral music, jazz, and world music.