To celebrate its 20th year, Silkroad has created a major new multimedia work. Under the name “Heroes Take Their Stands,” comprising five original compositions based on heroic tales from different traditions. It is created by a collaboration between pairs of culturally disparate artists: Kayhan Kalhor and Hamid Rahmanian on The Price of Sorrows, Pauchi Sasaki and Nomi Sasaki on Elektra; Kaoru Watanabe and Wu Man on June Snow; Colin Jacobsen and Aparna Ramaswamy on Ajruna’s Revelation; and Jason Moran and Lucy Raven on Moderato 400. Iranian musicians
The world premiere is on April 26 at the Granada Theater at UC Santa Barbara. They also will be bringing the piece to Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley on Friday, May 3. Iranian musicians
Artists have always sought new sources for inspiration, and the Silkroad Ensemble has been blurring and blending cultural boundaries successfully for two decades. Iranian musicians
Silkroad ensemble and its challenges
Although Silkroad has developed a strong following over these 20 years, there were some challenges in the beginning. Things like many people saw it as just another east-meets-west kind of gimmick. As a result, they had a lot of growth to do as a group. So the members believe that Silkroad is not about cultural appropriation, it is about creating a shared language together. They also think that if people dig down into the roots of cultures, they always find an incredible amount of influences from other cultures. And once one starts peeling away the layers, they discover so many other things that didn’t know before.
In addition to performing, in the past two years, Silkroad has been doing a “dizzying amount of work,” and spreading its gospel in a number of other ways. They have developed in-depth relationships with major educational institutions. Some of these institutions are Harvard University and Rice University, where they gather to rehearse, and where they present arts and passion-driven learning and global musician workshops.
Three-time GRAMMY nominee Kayhan Kalhor is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the kamancheh. He through his many musical collaborations has been instrumental in popularizing Persian music in the West. Now he, as one of the Iranian musicians is a creative force in today’s music scene.