My Awarded Projects
Through the creation of new music, performance, and learning, Silkroad fuels habits fundamental to living in a democratic society and an inclusive world: curiosity, listening, and radical cultural collaboration.
The Grammy Award-winning collective of Silkroad artists represents dozens of artistic traditions and nationalities, including an ever-growing constellation of musicians and composers from around the world. Silkroad appears in many configurations and settings, from intimate groups of two and three in museum galleries and classrooms to rousing complements of eighteen in concert halls, public squares, and amphitheaters. Off the stage, Silkroad artists lead professional development and musician training workshops, design and implement residency programs in schools, museums, and communities, and experiment with new media to share Silkroad’s model of radical cultural collaboration.
Silkroad traces the concept of radical cultural collaboration to its founding in 1998. Seeking to understand the fear and insecurity sparked by globalization, cellist Yo-Yo Ma began exploring the historical Silk Road, recognizing in it a model for productive cultural collaboration, for the exchange of ideas, art, and traditions alongside commerce and social innovation. In a radical experiment, he brought together musicians from throughout the world to co-create a new artistic idiom, a musical language founded in difference and collaboration that could serve as a metaphor for the benefits and possibility of a more connected world.
Commissioning new work has been at the foundation of Silkroad’s artistic work. These new works celebrate diverse musical traditions while promoting innovative collaborative encounters. New compositions and arrangements are developed organically by performers and in commissioning workshops with Silkroad musicians and composers. Silkroad’s commissioning program has resulted in more than 80 new musical works from composers and arrangers from 22 countries, including China, Azerbaijan, Korea, Argentina, Japan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and the US.
Guided by the lessons of its first 20 years, Silkroad is recommitting to the radical spirit of its creation, extending the metaphor Yo-Yo saw in the historical Silk Road beyond its particular geography. Silkroad seeks to meaningfully expand its collective of artists and teachers, creative output, and learning programs across tradition, race, gender, and geography, particularly to include African-American traditions. Silkroad’s goal is the creation of a more inclusive voice that can respond to the moment and impact a dramatically larger and more diverse population.
St. James Infirmary Blues
St. James Infirmary Blues, Traditional American; arr: Michael Ward-Bergeman. Performed by the Silkroad Ensemble February 16, 2016 for TED2016, Vancouver, BC. Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass), Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Rhiannon Giddens (voice), Joseph Gramley (percussion), Karen Ouzounian (cello), Kojiro Umezaki (shakuhachi), Michael Ward-Bergeman (accordion), Reylon Yount (yangqin), Evan Ziporyn (clarinet).
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble perform Kinan Azmeh’s “Wedding” live in the SiriusxXM studios. Kinan Azmeh (clarinet), Shawn Conley (bass), Mathias Kunzli (percussion), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Jessie Montgomery (violin), Dima Orsho (vocals), and Cristina Pato (gaita). “Wedding” blurs the lines between the composed and the improvised. The piece captures the general mood of a wedding party in a Syrian village, typically held in the public square for everyone to attend. These parties are always exciting and never predictable.
King Ashoka, composed by Sandeep Das for Silkroad, and performed by the Silkroad Ensemble, March 24, 2017. 5:00 excerpt. Shane Shanahan, Joe Gramley, Haruka Fujii (timpani, marimba, mouth harp, shakers, frame drum, tambourine, cymbals, wood block, gong, tom-tom); Sandeep Das (tabla); Mike Block (cello); Jeff Beecher (bass).