Performance Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | 8 PM

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Formed under the artistic direction of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, The Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of distinguished performers and composers from more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas who are dedicated to celebrating diverse musical traditions and developing a new multicultural repertoire. In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the innovative group returns to Carnegie Hall with a program of works from China, England, Italy, and the United States. Spanning more than a decade of music, previous commissions and new works by Vijay Iyer, John Zorn, and David Bruce are featured.

This concert is part of My Time, My Music.


  • The Silk Road Ensemble
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Artistic Director


  • ZORN Suite from Book of Angels (NY Premiere)
  • ANGEL LAM Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain
  • VIJAY IYER Playlist for an Extreme Occasion (NY Premiere)
  • GIOVANNI SOLLIMA The Taranta Project
  • JIA DAQUN The Prospect of Colored Desert
  • DAVID BRUCE Cut the Rug (NY Premiere)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • The Silk Road Ensemble

    The Silk Road Ensemble draws together distinguished performers and composers from more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Since the ensemble formed under the artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma in 2000, the group's innovative artists have eagerly explored contemporary musical crossroads. The ensemble's approach is experimental and democratic, founded on collaboration and risk taking, on continual learning and sharing among a kaleidoscope of cultures and art forms. Members explore one another's traditions, celebrating the multiplicity of approaches to music from around the world. They also develop new repertoire that responds to the multicultural reality of our global society.

    The Silk Road Ensemble has performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, and has recorded five albums. Its recent recording, Off the Map, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2011. The Silk Road Project's 15-year mission to promote innovation and cross-cultural understanding through the arts is showcased in a new CD, A Playlist Without Borders, and DVD, The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma: Live From Tanglewood, released by Sony Masterworks.

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  • Yo-Yo Ma

    The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Mr. Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras worldwide and his recital and chamber music activities. His discography comprises over 90 albums, including more than 17 Grammy-winning recordings.

    Mr. Ma serves as the artistic director of the Silk Road Project, a catalytic organization that takes inspiration from the historical trading routes and uses the Silk Road as a modern metaphor for sharing and learning across cultures, art forms, and disciplines. Since the project's inception in 1998, more than 70 works have been commissioned specifically for the Silk Road Ensemble, which tours annually. Mr. Ma also serves as the Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Institute for Learning, Access, and Training. Mr. Ma and the Institute have created the Citizen Musician Initiative, which exists to sustain and expand the role of music in civic and cultural life by creating and enhancing communities through music. His work focuses on the transformative power music can have in individuals' lives, and on increasing the number and variety of opportunities audiences have to experience music.

    Mr. Ma was born in Paris to Chinese parents who later moved the family to New York. He began studying cello at age four, attended The Juilliard School, and in 1976 graduated from Harvard University. He has received numerous awards, among them the National Medal of Arts (2001), Léonie Sonning Music Prize (2006), Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Polar Music Prize (2012), and Vilcek Prize (2013). In 2011, Mr. Ma was recognized as a Kennedy Center Honoree. Mr. Ma serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the 2008 Inaugural Ceremony for President Barack Obama.

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At a Glance

For nearly 2,000 years (ending in the 14th century), the historical Silk Road—a series of land and sea trade routes—crisscrossed Eurasia and enabled the exchange of goods and innovations from Japan to the Mediterranean Sea.

Over the centuries, many important scientific and technological innovations migrated to the West along the Silk Road, including the magnetic compass, the printing press, silk, gunpowder, mathematics, and ceramic and lacquer crafts. In this way, the Silk Road created an intercontinental think tank of human ingenuity. Interactions among cultural groups spread knowledge, religious beliefs, artistic techniques, and musical traditions, so much so that long after its decline, the Silk Road remains a powerful metaphor for cultural exchange.

This historic trade network provides a namesake-worthy metaphor for the Silk Road Project's vision of connecting artists and audiences around the world. Yo-Yo Ma has called these routes, which resulted in the first global exchange of scientific and cultural traditions, the "internet of antiquity."

Both historic and symbolic elements are central to the work of the Silk Road Project, which takes inspiration from this age-old tradition of learning from other cultures and disciplines. The repertoire of the Silk Road Ensemble includes traditional music (both as an oral tradition passed down from generation to generation and as melodies arranged by and for members of the ensemble) as well as newly commissioned works, many of which combine non-Western and Western instruments, creating a unique genre that transcends customary musical classification.
Program Notes


The Silk Road Ensemble performs "Ascending Bird"

KPMG 124X46
Sponsored by KPMG LLP
This performance is part of Around the Globe.

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