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  • With the release of "Alim and Fargana Qasimov", six volumes of a ten-part series created in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution are now available. For more information, visit and enter "Central Asia" in the search box.
Music of Central Asia at the Louvre: Alim and Fargana Qasimov, Tengir-Too and The Academy of Maqam to perform

Geneva, Switzerland, 31 March 2008 – Musicians from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan supported by the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia will be performing at the Louvre Auditorium on the 5, 6 and 13th of April.

Spiritual music from Azerbaijan will be performed by the world-renowned Alim and Fargana Qasimov on Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 2030, in the Louvre’s Auditorium. Music rooted in the nomadic traditions of the Tien Shan (“Celestial Mountains”) of the Kyrgyz Republic will be performed by Tengir-Too on Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 1730, in the Auditorium. Dushanbe-based Academy of Maqâm will perform traditional instrumental pieces, lyrical songs and contemplative poetry that are bound together in a vast, yet integrated artistic conception of great refinement and beauty. They will perform on Sunday, 13 April at 1700, also in the Auditorium.

Alim Qasimov is Azerbaijan’s best known and beloved singer, a virtuoso who is equally at home in the two musical domains central to Azeri musical culture: mugham, the classical art music that has flourished for centuries in the sophisticated cities of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia; and ashiq, the rural bardic tradition that is found in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Azeri region of Iran. Qasimov has been awarded a number of prizes, including the prestigious IMC/UNESCO Music Prize, and has been hailed as “one of the greatest singers of the 20th century.” Fargana Qasimova, Alim’s daughter, is well on the way to becoming a great singer in her own right. Find out more.

Tengir-Too takes its name from the Tien Shan mountain range that towers over the high alpine passes linking Kyrgyzstan and China. Founded and directed by Nurlanbek Nyshanov, Tengir-Too provides a living laboratory for Nyshanov’s efforts to restore Kyrgyz music’s integrity and authenticity – not through an uncritical attempt to reproduce tradition, but by innovating within it. Nyshanov draws on his compositional skills to craft striking arrangements for small ensembles of repertories formerly performed by solo players. Members of Tengir-Too include Kenjegul Kubatova, whose lush alto voice is the perfect medium for Kyrgyz lyrical song and Gulbara Baigashkaeva, a master performer on the komuz – the three-stringed lute that Kyrgyz regard as their national instrument.. Tengir-Too performs with special guest Rysbek Jumabaev, a reciter of the great thousand-year-old Kyrgyz epic tale Manas. Find out more.

In Tajikistan, the leader of a movement to revive the tradition of Maqâm is Abduvali Abdurashidov. His Academy of Maqâm, supported by the Music Initiative, offers rigorous training to a highly select group of talented young performers. Maqâm are linked most strongly with Samarkand and Bukhara, which historically have been multicultural cities where performers and audiences included Tajiks, Uzbeks and Central Asian (Bukharan) Jews. With its Sufi-inspired texts, lyrical melodies, and austere instrumental accompaniment, maqâm comprises music of great refinement and profound beauty that spans the entire gamut of traditional social life, from prayer to dance. By reducing his ensemble to the essentials – a few voices, frame drum, and two or three long-necked lutes, including the rarely heard sato (bowed tanbur) – Abdurashidov achieves a remarkable clarity of texture and suppleness of form. Find out more.

All three groups are beneficiaries and long-term partners of the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (AKMICA), and its Supporting Tradition-Bearers and performance and Outreach programmes. AKMICA, an initiative created by His Highness the Aga Khan to help preserve Central Asia’s endangered musical heritage by ensuring its transmission to a new generation of artists and audiences, also supports a worldwide music touring programme and disseminates Central Asian music through a variety of media projects including an audio and video anthology co-produced with the Smithsonian Institution. All three groups performing at the Louvre are featured in the first six the CD/DVD series available on Smithsonian’s Folkways recordings. For more information, visit and enter “Central Asia” in the search box.

For more information about the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia, please see

For additional information on the performances at the Louvre, please consult the Auditorium section of

For further information, please contact:

For Press:
Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41 22) 909 7277
Fax: (+41 22) 909 7292
Mobile: (+41 78) 661 8714

Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (AKMICA):
Fairouz R. Nishanova
Director, AKMICA
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2


The Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia was created in 2000 by His Highness the Aga Khan to contribute to the preservation, documentation, and further development of Central Asia’s musical heritage. The Music Initiative’s goals include revitalising important musical repertories by helping tradition-bearers pass on their knowledge and craft; building sustainable cultural institutions that can eventually be maintained by local organizations and communities; and supporting artists who are developing new approaches to the performance of Central Asian music. Worldwide, the Music Initiative strives to increase knowledge about Central Asia’s music and culture, particularly among students, and to nurture collaborations among musicians from different parts of Central Eurasia and beyond.

The Music Initiative is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. As the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Trust leverages cultural heritage as a means of supporting and catalysing development. Its programmes include the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, which works to revitalise historic cities in the Muslim world - both culturally and socioeconomically. Over the last decade, it has rehabilitated historic areas in Cairo, Kabul, Herat, Aleppo, Delhi, Zanzibar, Mostar, the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Timbuktu and Mopti. The Trust’s other programmes include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),, a major online resource on Islamic architecture, and Museums and Exhibitions, which is creating three museums in Cairo, Toronto and Zanzibar.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies work in 29 countries, focusing on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$ 450 million.