The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma are performing on Sunday, August 21, at the Hollywood Bowl as part of KCRW’s long-running World Festival series. I’m definitely going. In fact, I’ll be hosting the show that evening! Hope to see you there.
I first got to know Yo-Yo Ma from his exquisite recordings of Bach’s six solo cello suites. His tone, articulation, and fluid expression brought out the beauty of these suites like few other cellists. There are many recordings of these beautiful works, and Yo-Yo’s are always at the top of my list.
As one of the world’s great cellists, he could have stayed in his comfort zone and just stuck with the classical repertoire. But no, he decided instead to reach out and form a United Nations kind of orchestra, based on the the silk route and the different countries it traveled through, such as Iran, China, India, Syria, Spain, Japan, and other places. It reflects his passion for musical exploration, and gives us the joy of discovery by offering a learning curve of world music.
Voltaire, the great French philosopher of the Enlightenment, once wrote that politicians should learn music; it would help bring people and nations together. Music is also an anodyne that soothes and heals. With all the world’s current troubles, we sorely need music that provides a path to better understanding between people.
On the Silk Road Ensemble website we read, “We know that music cannot stop a bullet or feed the hungry, but it can bring empathy and joy to places where they are in short supply.” The Silk Road Ensemble brings together so many musicians from different traditions and musical styles into a harmonious whole; I wish world leaders could accomplish this!
I highly recommend a beautiful film about the ensemble called The Music of Strangers:
Finally, members of the Silk Road Ensemble recently took part in a summer residency at the Getty Center in conjunction with the exhibition, Caves Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road. The residency will conclude with a special concert on August 24 with members of the ensemble performing original music to accompany an outdoor screening of the 1927 silent film, “The Cave of the Silken Web.”