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  • Musicians from the Silk Route performing with the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) in the Senate Room of the Portuguese Parliament, 26 March 2013.
    AKDN / Luis Saraiva
Music and Voices of the Silk Route celebrate Nowruz at Portuguese Parliament

Lisbon, 2 April 2013 – As part of a week-long programmes celebrating Nowruz, musicians from the Silk Route performing with the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) presented a specially curated concert programme in the Senate Room of the Portuguese Parliament. Nowruz marks the beginning of Spring, which is a cherished holiday in the Silk Route region. A second concert was performed at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon on the 27th of March.

The performances included artists from the Badakhshan Ensemble (Tajikistan), classical and folk music from Iran, as well as instrumental and festive music from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as a number of other artists. The event was open to the public. Jointly sponsored by the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Assembly of the Republic (CoFA) under the direction of President Dr. Alberto Martins, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI), the performance was part of the Aga Khan Music Initiative’s week-long programme entitled Celebrations of Nowruz. In addition to the concerts in Lisbon, several concert performances, lecture-demonstrations, film screenings and master classes were presented at the Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) on 23 and 24 March, the Scène Nationale d’Orléans (Orléans) on 26 March and at the Cité de la Musique, Marseille, on 27 and 29 March.

The programme, called Music and Voices of the Silk Route, was designed to present audiences with a broad perspective on the richness and diversity of the artistic traditions of the region. The concerts showcased new talents and offered an introduction to the tradition of celebrating the region’s most beloved holiday, Nowruz. Nowruz, or literally “the new day”, marks both the beginning of spring and of the New Year for many Muslim communities in Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and elsewhere. It is celebrated on the day of the March equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or on the previous or following day, depending on where it is observed.

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.