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About the Aga Khan Music Initiative

About the Aga Khan Music Initiative

The Aga Khan Music Initiative is an interregional music and arts education programme with worldwide performance, outreach, mentoring, and artistic production activities. The Initiative was launched by His Highness the Aga Khan to support talented musicians and music educators working to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms. The Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia, with projects in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and subsequently expanded its cultural development activities to include artistic communities and audiences in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and West Africa.


Performers in front of Bibi Khanym Mosque, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Sebastian Schutyser / Aga Khan Music Initiative
The Initiative designs and implements a country-specific set of activities for each country into which it invests, and works to promote revitalization of cultural heritage both as a source of livelihood for musicians and as a means to strengthen pluralism in nations where it is challenged by social, political, and economic constraints. Through its work, the Initiative strives to support exceptional artistic talent; promote the revival of historical connections among artists from Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa by organizing creative collaborations among artistic communities from these regions; and disseminate results of this work through a global network of partnerships with educational institutions, arts presenters, and music distributors.

To this end, musicians in the Music Initiative’s artist roster participate in diverse kinds of performances that range from concerts of traditional repertory to contemporary expressions of tradition-based art to interregional collaborations that feature talented artists from different countries in the Music Initiative’s regions of activity. Education is at the centre of the Music Initiative’s work.  The Initiative focuses on developing and testing newly created teaching and learning methodologies, setting up teacher-training mechanisms, operating talent-support centres, and presenting performance and artist-in-residence programmes that provide students an opportunity to experience the creative challenges of intercultural music-making. Residencies and workshops featuring musicians from the Music Initiative’s artist roster have been presented at many academic and cultural institutions throughout North America and Europe.

The Music Initiative is a programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Trust, in turn, serves as the cultural development agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world’s largest private development networks, and the only one that prioritizes cultural development on a par with economic and social development in all of its projects and commitments. Through an integrated multi-sector approach to cultural development, the Music Initiative mobilizes the resources of the AKDN to support vibrant interlinked artistic communities devoted to creating new music rooted in but not constrained by tradition while also building audiences for such music through arts education on a mass scale.

Like other programmes of the Trust for Culture, the Music Initiative plays an active operational role in all the projects and activities into which it invests, and does not administer a grants programme for either individuals or institutions.