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  • Fatimid jar from the 10th or 11th centuries is featured in the Splendori a Corte Exhibition in Parma, Italy.
Sacred Art and Music of the Muslim World in Parma, Italy

Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Teatro Regio di Parma and Parma Capitale della Musica Present Five Concerts of Traditional Central Asian Music and an Exhibition of Masterpieces of Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collections

Parma, Italy, 30 March 2007 – His Highness the Aga Khan and Mr. Elvio Ubaldi, Mayor of Parma, inaugurated “Splendori a Corte”, an exhibition of rare art and manuscripts from the Aga Khan Museum collections being shown at the Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma. In addition to the exhibition, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in collaboration with the Teatro Regio di Parma and Parma Capitale della Musica, presented a programme of sacred music from Central Asia.

The Exhibition, which will open on 31 March 2007, will run for two months in Parma and then appear in other European cities. The music programme, which presents a panoramic view of Central Asia’s musical traditions, opened at the Teatro Regio on 30 March 2007. Four other concerts, featuring four different performing ensembles, are running from 31 March to 1 April 2007 at the Palazzo della Pilotta.

“This Exhibition of artistic masterpieces from the Islamic world underlines that the arts, particularly when they are spiritually inspired, can become a medium of discourse that transcends the barriers of our day-to-day experiences and preoccupations,” said His Highness the Aga Khan. “Many questions are currently being raised in the West about the Muslim world, with countless misconceptions and misunderstandings occurring between our contemporary societies. I hope that this exhibition will hold a special significance at a time which calls for enlightened encounters amongst faiths and cultures.”

The Exhibition is dedicated to the presentation of Muslim arts and culture in all their historic, cultural and geographical diversity. The selection of artwork is made from the permanent collections of the Aga Khan Museum, which will open in Toronto, Canada, in 2010. Surrounded by a large landscaped park, the Museum will be housed in a 10,000 square-metre building designed by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.

“The political crises of the last few years, and the large numbers of Muslims emigrating to the West, have revealed – often dramatically – the considerable lack of knowledge of the Muslim world in many Western societies,” said Luis Monreal, General Manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. “This ignorance spans all aspects of Islam: its pluralism, the diversity of interpretations within the Qur’anic faith, the chronological and geographical extent of its history and culture, as well as the ethnic, linguistic and social diversity of its peoples. The supposed ‘clash of civilisations’ is in reality nothing more than a manifestation of mutual ignorance.”

The opening concert took place on 30 March 2007 at the Teatro Regio di Parma with all four ensembles performing for 25 minutes. Each group’s performance was introduced by a five-minute documentary film subtitled in Italian that portrayed the musicians in their home communities and provided a cultural context for their art.

The four individual concerts are taking place at the Palazzo della Pilotta, featuring single ensembles during one-hour performances. Each performance is preceded by a twenty-minute introduction that includes a brief presentation of the musical tradition and a five-minute documentary film on the musicians.

AKTC’s programmes encompass a wide series of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of various elements of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. The Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia is an initiative for the preservation of the musical heritage of Central Asia, which both supports master interpreters and music tradition bearers, and carries out the recording and publication of musical anthologies of the various ethnic groups in that region. AKTC also supports the Muslim arts and architecture departments of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as ArchNet, a major online resource on Islamic architecture. AKTC includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, established thirty years ago and created to draw attention to and recompense outstanding examples of architectural excellence as well as projects which provide solutions for the most acute social needs which exist in Muslim societies.

These programmes are part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), the cultural agency of AKDN, which uses cultural heritage as a means of supporting and catalysing development – a strategy seldom employed by other international agencies. AKTC programmes are aimed at revitalising historic cities in the Muslim world both culturally and socioeconomically. Over the last decade, this approach has demonstrated its unique potential, through projects which rehabilitate monuments and public spaces and generally enhance the urban environment, including historic areas in Cairo, Kabul, Herat, Aleppo, Delhi, Zanzibar, Mostar, Timbuktu and Mopti. Coupled with socioeconomic initiatives (microfinance programmes, vocational training, health care, early child development, etc.), this approach produces measurable results which have a direct impact on social opportunities and the quality of life in what are often contexts of extreme poverty.

The exhibition will be open from 31 March to 3 June 2007 at Parma's Palazzo della Pilotta. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Sunday 10.00 – 19.00. Mondays the exhibition is closed, except the 9th, 23rd, and 30th of April.

For more information, please contact:

Sam Pickens
Information Officer
Aga Khan Development Network
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41 22) 909 7277
Fax: (+41 22) 909 7291

Notes on the Aga Khan Development Network

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Network's agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion. Its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social and cultural development activities is US$300 million.