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  • From L-R: Sirojiddin Juraev, Wu Man, Abduvali Abdurashidov.
Aga Khan Music Initiative and Smithsonian Folkways release “Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route”

Washington, DC, USA, 11 May 2012 -- On May 29, Smithsonian Folkways and the Aga Khan Music Initiative will celebrate the tenth and final release of their award-winning "Music of Central Asia" series, a groundbreaking CD/DVD set entitled "Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route".

Wu Man, an internationally renowned virtuoso of the pipa (a pear-shaped, short-necked lute dating back to the 7th century), and Central Asian master musicians embark on an unprecedented collaboration between Chinese classical, Uyghur, and Tajik tradition bearers.

The group explores the music from the Chinese borderlands of the Silk Route, a four thousand mile passage that for two millennia has connected regions stretching north and west from the Great Wall of China to the Mediterranean Sea.

Joining the Chinese-born, U.S.-based Wu Man are Abduvali Abdurashidov (sato-tanbur) and Sirojiddin Juraev (dutar) from Tajikistan, Ma Ersa (vocals) from the Gansu province of China, and Abdulla Majnun (diltar, dutar, tambur), Hesenjan Tursun (satar), Sanubar Tursun (dutar), and Yasin Yaqup (dap) from Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. These musicians represent cultures of the Silk Route by telling their history through traditional performances, with music played on the pipa for the first time in over eight hundred years.

"The collaborations made my musical fantasy come true," says Wu Man. “I often imagined what it would be like if the pipa were mixed with instruments such as satar, tambur and dutar.”

The results - newly arranged traditional songs and original improvisations - make for an extraordinary listening experience, blending sounds from historically kindred musical worlds. The CD/DVD package includes a documentary film about the region, musicians, and recording process as well as an instrument glossary and detailed liner notes.

Born in China, Wu Man was trained at Beijing's Central Conservatory and has lived in the US since 1990. Her groundbreaking musical work with the pipa has led to starring roles in pieces by contemporary composers such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and Evan Ziporyn performed by the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles.

Information about concerts will follow in a separate release.

Listen to “Shadiana (Celebration)” (

Listen to “Hanleylun” (

About the Aga Khan Music Initiative: 

Listen to a playlist featuring selections from Vol. 1-10:  

Watch videos from the Music of Central Asia Series:  

Watch an informational video on the Aga Khan Trust For Culture and Music Initiative:  

The groundbreaking “Music of Central Asia” series began in 2006 with Vols. 1–3, followed with Vols. 4–6 in 2007 and Vols. 7–9 in 2010. The ongoing partnership between Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia seeks to revitalize and assure the onward transmission of musical traditions in regions where they are endangered, and to cultivate the creative processes that lead to artistic innovation and evolution.

“Music of Central of Asia” is a co-production of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Each disc features a full-color booklet with extensive liner notes, an instrument glossary and a DVD with a documentary film about the music and performers.

The “Music of Central Asia” series is co-produced and curated by Dr. Theodore Levin, an ethnomusicologist on the faculty of Dartmouth College and Fairouz Nishanova, Director of the Aga Khan Music Initiative. Levin earned the 2011 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for the liner notes to volumes 7, 8 and 9.

Both “Music of Central Asia Vol. 8: Rainbow” and “Music of Central Asia Vol. 9: In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals” won Independent Music Awards for Best Music Video, Long Form and Best World Traditional Song, respectively. Production and liner notes for Volume 10 were conceived in consultation with ethnomusicologist Dr. Rachel Harris, department head of the music faculty at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

About Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States, dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.
Through the dissemination of audio recordings and educational materials, Smithsonian Folkways seeks to strengthen people's engagement with their own cultural heritage and to enhance their awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others. This mission is the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948 to document "people's music," spoken word, instruction, and sounds from around the world.

The Smithsonian acquired Folkways from the Asch estate in 1987, and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has continued the Folkways commitment to cultural diversity, education, increased understanding, and lively engagement with the world of sound.

About the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) The Aga Khan Music Initiative is an interregional music and arts education program 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. Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia, subsequently expanding its cultural development activities to include artistic communities and audiences in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. AKMI 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.

Learn more at 

Both Smithsonian Folkways and The Aga Khan Music Initiative are committed to both preserving these traditions and protecting the livelihoods of the musicians who maintain these traditions, while honouring their communities and celebrating cultural pluralism.

Music of Central Asia (list of titles to date):

Vol. 1: Tengir-Too: Mountain Music from Kyrgyzstan, 2006.
Vol. 2: Invisible Face of the Beloved: Classical Music of the Tajiks and Uzbeks, 2006. (2006 GRAMMY Nominee).
Vol. 3: Homayoun Sakhi: The Art of the Afghan Rubab, 2006.
Vol. 4: Bardic Divas: Women’s Voices in Central Asia, 2007.
Vol. 5: The Badakhshan Ensemble: Song and Dance from the Pamir Mountains, 2007. Vol. 6: Alim and Fargana Qasimov: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan, 2007.
Vol. 7: In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular Classics from Bukhara and Beyond, 2010. Vol. 8: Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayoun Sakhi, 2010. (Independent Music Award, Best Music Video, Long Form)
Vol. 9: In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals, 2010. (Independent Music Award, Best Word Traditional Song)
Vol. 10: Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route

For press enquires regarding the Aga Khan Music Initiative, please contact:

Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
1-3 avenue de la Paix
1202 Geneva
Telephone: +41 (22) 909.72.00
Facsimile: +41 (22) 909.72.91

NOTE: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings retail distribution is through ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) at 800.239.3232. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings releases are available through record and book outlets. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as the original Folkways, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Monitor, Paredon, Collector and Fast Folk collections, are available via mail order at 1.888.FOLKWAYS or 800.410.9815 and via the Internet. Visit the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings website at  

For more information about the series, please contact Chris Taillie ( Matt Hanks ( at Shore Fire Media, 718-522-7171