Silk Road Project
Silk Road Project, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, initiated by the cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions, promoting multicultural artistic exchange, and studying the ebb and flow of ideas among different cultures along the Silk Road. The Project encompasses a number of artistic, cultural and educational programs. It has been described as an "arts and educational organization that connects musicians, composers, artists and audiences around the world" and "an initiative to promote multicultural artistic collaboration."
In 2009, the Project began an educational pilot program for middle-school students in New York City public schools. The program, called Silk Road Connect, focuses on passion-driven education through arts integration and is being developed with help from education experts at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In July 2012, the Silk Road Project and Harvard Graduate School of Education presented "The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning," an arts education institute that modeled the Silk Road Connect arts integration approach.
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Silk Road Project presented performances and programs by the Silk Road Ensemble in North America, Asia and Europe from 2008 to 2010. Its anniversary season began with the Silk Road Ensemble's performance with Yo-Yo Ma of the United Nations Day Concert in October 2008. Tenth-anniversary activities also included a North American concert tour by the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma in March 2009, which featured the North American premiere of Layla and Majnun, a chamber arrangement for the Silk Road Ensemble of a traditional Azerbaijani opera.
The organization has published a book, Along the Silk Road, and commissioned more than 70 new chamber music compositions. The Silk Road Project has also created educational materials entitled "Silk Road Encounters" and has partnered with the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) to produce Along the Silk Road, a curriculum for students in grades six-10, and The Road to Beijing, a documentary made available with related lessons about Beijing in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. As of December 2008, the Silk Road Ensemble has recorded five CDs. The group's 2009 CD Off the Map was nominated in the Best Classical Crossover Album category at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011.
The Silk Road Project is affiliated with Harvard University; the organization moved its offices to the Harvard campus in Boston, Massachusetts, in July 2010 at the outset of a renewed five-year affiliation with the University, designed to enable new artistic and cultural opportunities at Harvard and in surrounding communities. The Silk Road Project has been affiliated with both Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design in the USA, where the Silk Road Ensemble engaged with faculty and students in annual residencies. The Silk Road Project's partnership with Rhode Island School of Design took place from 2005 through 2010. As part of Silk Road Project programming, the Silk Road Ensemble has also been involved in short-term residencies at Museum Rietberg in Zurich, Switzerland; The Art Institute of Chicago; University of California, Santa Barbara; Rubin Museum of Art in New York City; Nara National Museum in Nara, Japan; and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
At its height from the second century BCE until the 14th century, the Silk Road was a vast network of trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean through Greater Iran. For centuries ideas, objects, and people traveled along the Silk Road, making it one of the most fluid and broad arenas of exchange the world has known and a major conduit of culture and civilization. The name Silk Road Project serves as a metaphor of the cultural exchange of ideas envisioned by the project.
The Silk Road Ensemble
The Silk Road Ensemble is a musical collective and a part of the Silk Road Project. The ensemble is not a fixed group of musicians, but rather a loose collective of as many as 59 musicians, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers from varies Eurasian cultures interesting in maintaining the authenticity of their own cultural heritage and, at the same time, exchanging ideas across cultures.
The Ensemble has regularly commissioned new works from across a broad musical spectrum, including works by Zhao Jiping and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, and is known for its series of interdisciplinary festivals and residencies presented in North America, Europe, and Asia. They have performed in many locations along the historic Silk Road, including Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, India, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.
The Ensemble uses various instruments from the Silk Road region, including a pipa, a Chinese short-necked plucked lute; a duduk, an Armenian double reed woodwind; a Shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute; and a morin khuur, a Mongolian horse head fiddle; among many others.
In addition to Ma, performing members of the ensemble include:
- Siamak Aghaei - santur/composer
- Edward Arron - cello
- Jeffrey Beecher - double bass
- Mike Block - cello
- Nicholas Cords - viola
- Gevorg Dabaghyan - duduk
- Sandeep Das - tabla/composer
- Joel Fan - piano
- Haruka Fujii - percussion
- Jonathan Gandelsman - violin
- Joseph Gramley - percussion/composer
- Ben Haggarty - storyteller
- He Cui - sheng
- Hu Jianbing - sheng, bawu
- Rauf Islamov - kamancheh
- Colin Jacobsen - violin/composer
- Siamak Jahangiry - ney
- Kayhan Kalhor - kamancheh/composer
- Khongorzul Ganbaatar - urtiin duu (long song)
- Dong-Won Kim - janggo, vocals/composer
- Ji Huyun Kim - kayagum, vocals
- You-Young Kim - viola
- Li Hui - pipa
- Liu Lin - sanxian
- Ali Asgar Mammadov - tar
- Max Mandel - viola
- Gulia Mashurova - harp
- Kevork Mourad - visual artist
- Cristina Pato - Galician bagpipe
- Alim Qasimov - mugham vocals
- Fargana Qasimova - mugham vocals
- Bassam Saba - oud, ney/composer
- Shane Shanahan - percussion/composer
- Mark Suter - percussion/composer
- Kojiro Umezaki - shakuhachi/composer
- Wu Man - pipa
- Wu Tong - sheng, bawu/composer
- Betti Xiang - erhu
- Yang Wei - pipa
- DaXun Zhang - double bass
Silk Road Ensemble composers and arrangers include:
- Rabih Abou-Khalil
- Christopher Adler
- Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
- Jia Daqun
- Gabriela Lena Frank
- Osvaldo Golijov
- Jeeyoung Kim
- Angel Lam
- Alisher Latif-Zadeh
- Ljova (Lev Zhurbin)
- Nurlanbek Nyshanov
- Sansargereltekh Sangidorj
- Vache Sharafyan
- Byambasuren Sharav
- Giovanni Sollima
- Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky
- Zhao Jiping
- Zhao Lin
- Evan Ziporyn
Silk Road Chicago
Silk Road Chicago was a yearlong, citywide celebration, from June 2006 to June 2007, with special events, performances, and exhibitions that explored cross-cultural discovery and celebrated the artistic legacy of the historic Silk Road. Silk Road Chicago was a partnership among the Silk Road Project, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Office of Tourism, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Art Institute of Chicago.
- Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project — article published in The World & I
- Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble Return to Japan — World Music Central, February 15, 2008.
- Follow the mellow Silk Road with Yo-Yo and his cello — The Irish Independent, August 23, 2008.
- Chancellor and Yo-Yo Ma Launch Partnership to Enrich Middle School Instruction — New York City Department of Education press release
- Yo-Yo Ma visits HGSE with Silk Road Project — Harvard Graduate School of Education News, October 20, 2009.
- Inspiring as well as educating: Musicians, Ed School leaders probe teaching methods that turn 'have to' into 'want to' — Harvard Gazette, August 3, 2012.
- Oestreich, James. Silk Road Project Turns 10 — The New York Times, October 26, 2008.
- For the love of Layla: Yo-Yo Ma's Ensemble creates a version of Layla and Majnun — The New York Times, February 27, 2009.
- Commissioned Works — The Silk Road Project
- New Curriculum Brings Cultural Exchange to Chicago Classrooms — Silk Road Project Newsletter, Summer 2007.
- Program packages primer on Beijing in time for Games — Stanford News Service, July 9, 2008.
- Small Labels, Superhuman Symphony Dominate Classical Grammy Nominations — Deceptive Cadence from NPR Classical, December 2, 2010
- Silk Road Project moves to Harvard: New Allston headquarters will expand campus and community arts education, strengthen partnership — Harvard Gazette, April 13, 2010.
- Silk Road Project, RISD and Harvard announce educational collaborations — press release
- Silk Road Project ends tie to RISD — Providence Journal, April 14, 2010.
- Exploring the Silk Road: History Cultural and Social Exchange — Silk Road Ensemble at UCSB residency brochure
- Creative Exchanges: Sights and Sounds of the Silk Road — PEM residency archive
- Silk Road Ensemble list — The Silk Road Project
- Silk Road Ensemble list — The Silk Road Project