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Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The Silk Road

The Silk Road Ensemble

The Silk Road Ensemble is a group of musicians dedicated to exploring the relationship between tradition and innovation in music from the East and West. Each musician's career illustrates a unique response to one of the major artistic challenges of our times: nourishing global connections while retaining a link to art rooted in an authentic tradition. Most of the Ensemble musicians first came together at a Silk Road Project workshop at the Tangelwood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, in July 2000 under the artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma. Their diverse careers encompass and often intermingle Western classical music, non-Western classical musics, folk musics, and popular music. Since then, various combinations of these artists have performed a variety of programs, both with and without Mr. Ma, in Silk Road Project concerts and festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America. Musicians who have performed with the Silk Road Ensemble come from Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in addition to the United States and a half-dozen nations of Europe.

The Ensemble's repertory consists of new music written by composers from the Silk Road region, traditional music from this region, Western classical music that reflects cross-cultural influences, and improvised arrangements of folk songs and melodies, both Eastern and Western, that have developed through the Ensemble's pursuit of a common creative language. Examples of all these kinds of music can be heard on Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble's premiere recording, Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet.

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