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Classical News, Jazz, Opera, World Music, Theater, Ballet ...

Cultural exchange project hits roadblock
A high-profile cultural exchange project run by superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma has been forced to postpone concert performances in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan due to mounting fears over international travel.

But the concerts, due to take place over the next few days, have presented a window of opportunity for "The Silk Road project" to schedule some additional concerts in the United States.

"Due to the tragic events in the US and mounting complications over the international travel and security situation, it was the joint decision of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Silk Road Project to postpone the concert performances in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan originally scheduled for October 6-10, 2001," says a statement on the project's website. "The Silk Road Project and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture remain fully committed to the Music Initiative in Central Asia and intend to carry out the concert tour and other events and programs once the international situation normalizes."

Two concerts have been added to the calendar of events: in Dallas and Atlanta on October 11 and 14, respectively. The statement continues: "The Silk Road Project's mission to promote mutual understanding by connecting people through art and music is all the more relevant in the United States during this time." It adds: "Recent events have only strengthened our resolve to help build a more resilient understanding and openness among the peoples of the Silk Road and the West."

The Silk Road Project is a landmark series of festivals in Asia, Europe and North America that was launched earlier this summer to celebrate the historic cross-cultural exchange between the lands of the Silk Road and the West.

The Silk Road itself was a vast network of trade routes that linked the people and traditions of Asia with those of Europe during the first millennium BC through the middle of the second millennium AD. These historic routes served as a major conduit for the transport of knowledge, information and material goods between East and West and resulted in the first global exchange of scientific and cultural traditions.

Led by Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma and a distinguished international team of musicians, artists and scholars, the project is designed to illuminate the historical contributions of the Silk Road, support innovative collaborations among artists from Asia, Europe and North America, and explore classical music within a broader global context.

The festivals feature Yo-Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble performing specially commissioned pieces, traditional from Silk Road countries, and Western music influenced by Eastern traditions. The first of more than a dozen festivals opened on August 19 at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany.

"There is an unbelievable need for people to come together at this time," says Yo-Yo Ma on the project’s website. "There is an incredible power in music and this is a unique time to make a difference culturally."

In an introduction to the project on the site, the cellist writes: "In the course of 25 years of performing in different parts of the world, I have become increasingly intrigued by the migration of ideas among communities. In my musical journey, I have had the opportunity to learn from a wealth of different musical voices – from the immense compassion and grace of Bach's cello suites, to the ancient Celtic fiddle traditions alive in Appalachia, to the soulful strains of the bandoneón of Argentina's tango cafés.

"Throughout my travels, I have thought about the culture, religions and ideas that have been influential for centuries along these historic land and sea routes, and have wondered how these complex interconnections occurred and how new musical voices were formed from the diversity of these traditions. How did an 8th-century Japanese biwa, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, come to be decorated with Persian and Central Asian designs; how did ancient Roman glass influence objects made in China, Korea and Japan; how did such string instruments as the Arab oud, Chinese erhu and Indian sarangi come to influence both East and West?

"We live in a world of increasing awareness and interdependence, and I believe that music can act as a magnet to draw people together. Music is an expressive art that can reach to the very core of one's identity. By listening to and learning from the voices of an authentic musical tradition, we become increasingly able to advocate for the worlds they represent. Further, as we interact with unfamiliar musical traditions we encounter voices that are not exclusive to one community. We discover trans-national voices that belong to one world."

More details can be found on the project’s website: http://www.silkroadproject.org/

Thu Oct 4 2001 (12:27:37 PM)

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