At the inaugural prize-giving ceremony of the Aga Khan Music Awards, His Highness the Aga Khan remarked that “in some parts of the world, the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘music’ are not often linked together in the public mind. But they should be”. He went on to note that music is a strong cultural anchor, “deepening a sense of community, identity and heritage, while simultaneously reaching out in powerful ways to people of different backgrounds.” This film follows the creation and development of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, which was launched by His Highness the Aga Khan in 2000 to help revitalise a part of global heritage that was fast disappearing. It proceeds to the transformation of the Initiative into the Aga Khan Music Programme, incorporating a mechanism for recognition of excellence and exceptional creativity, the Aga Khan Music Awards.
The Awards, held on 29-31 March 2019, was a celebration of the pioneering work in music from the Muslim world, featuring laureates in a number of domains: Mustafa Said (Performance); Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Creation); The Omnibus Ensemble (Education); Badiaa Bouhrizi (Social Inclusion); Oumou Sangaré, Ballake Sissoko, and Dariush Talai (Distinguished and Enduring Contributions); and Farhod Halimov and The Gurminj Museum (Preservation, Revitalisation, and Dissemination). A special Patron’s Award was also conferred on Mohammad Reza Shajarian for his contribution to the musical heritage of humanity, peerless musical mastery, and social impact as a performer and teacher, both within Iran and beyond its borders.
The film features performances by all inaugural laureates and tributes from music visionaries and cultural leaders such as Kronos Quartet’s David Harrington, BAM’s Joseph Melillo and Juilliard’s Ara Guzelimian, as well as commentary from Fairouz Nishanova, Director of the Programme.