Since 2000, the Silk Road Ensemble has been redefining classical music for 21st-century audiences. The group has been called “vibrant and virtuosic” by the Wall Street Journal, “one of the 21st century’s great ensembles” by the Vancouver Sun, and a “roving musical laboratory without walls” by the Boston Globe.
Representing a global array of cultures, Silk Road Ensemble members co-create art, performances, and ideas. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma established the nonprofit organization Silkroad and the Ensemble to explore the role of the arts in fostering cross-cultural understanding, deepening learning, and promoting innovation.
Silk Road Ensemble performers and composers hail from more than 20 countries. Passionate about learning from one another’s traditions, these rooted explorers perform on instruments ranging from world percussion to Western strings to the Chinese pipa (lute) and sheng (mouth organ), the Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute), the Galician gaita (bagpipe), Indian tabla (paired drums), and Persian kamancheh (spike fiddle), among others.
Under the artistic direction of Mr. Ma, these storytelling musicians celebrate the multiplicity of approaches to music from around the world. They also develop new repertoire that responds to the new realities of our global society.
In engaging, high-energy performances, the Silk Road Ensemble draws on a rich tapestry of traditions that make up our shared cultural heritage, creating a new musical language—a uniquely engaging and accessible encounter between the foreign and the familiar that reflects our many-layered contemporary identities.
As the Los Angeles Times has said, “The Silk Road Ensemble vision of international cooperation is not what we read in our daily news reports. Theirs is the better world available if we, like these extraordinary musicians, agree to make it one.”
Throughout Asia, Europe and North America, the Silk Road Ensemble has performed in more than 100 cities in over 30 countries, in some of the world’s most lauded venues, including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall, the Concertgebouw, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ensemble performances have also highlighted the Nobel Prize celebrations in Stockholm, the Sir Bani Yas Forum in the United Arab Emirates, the Special Olympics in Shanghai, the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and London’s BBC Proms.
The Ensemble has recorded six albums, the most recent album will be released in 2016. The Music Of Strangers, a documentary about the ensemble by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and will be released in theaters and at festivals in 2016.