Thursday, September 27, 2007

Between the Sufis and Beethoven

CBC News with AP - CBC Canada - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma is taking his Silk Road Project, which explores how influences from both East and West shaped modern music, to China.

Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, a group of young musicians who play traditional instruments, will give concerts and workshops in Suzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing's Forbidden City.

The tour starts with an Oct. 2 concert in Shanghai at the Special Olympics summer games for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

The message of the Silk Road Project, celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, is tolerance and understanding of different cultural traditions.

"Not just in terms of an informational way ... but also in terms of approach and the deep respect and spirituality for something," Ma said.

The project explores the impact of the Silk Road itself, the overland route between China and Europe that helped transfer technologies and cultural practices into new settings.

The ensemble will play Islamic music, Ma said. "If we play Mugham music, which is classical music of a lot of places including Azerbaijan, the art of Mugham music is not unlike the art of Indian music, which is meditative," Ma said.

Ma sees connections between Asian music and classical music. Beethoven, like the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, is trying to reach a "moment of transcendence" in his music, Ma said.

"You get to the first movement of Beethoven's violin concerto. You get to that moment where you break free. You earned it! ... You get to the divine! You get to the clouds! And that's what Sufi poetry and music tries to get to. Not so different," he said.

Ma, who will turn 52 while on tour in China, has spent a lifetime straddling cultures.
Born to Chinese parents in France, he moved to America as a boy and studied anthropology at Harvard despite his love of music.

He started the Silk Road Project to explore the connections between musical traditions. The cellist combines his Silk Road work with a demanding international concert career.
"This is not ideological. We're trying to just find out things. If we find something that has no connection to anything and it evolves on its own, that's great," he said.
"But it seems to us so far that the more we dig, the more you find there are connections."

With the 10th anniversary approaching, he's wondering how long he'll remain artistic director of the project though he has no plans yet to resign.

"I love the ensemble. It's like family to me. We've really had so many incredible adventures and experiences together. And I've learned so much from my friends, and I hope, I think my friends would say they've learned a lot from me, too," he said.

Much of the future depends on funding, he said.

The ensemble has performed in 23 countries, and recently completed a year-long residency in Chicago. In China it will perform works from its recent album, New Impossibilities.

[picture: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Photo Ariel Schalit/Associated Press].

1 comment:

irving said...

i love Yo Yo Ma :) Nice post.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Between the Sufis and Beethoven
CBC News with AP - CBC Canada - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma is taking his Silk Road Project, which explores how influences from both East and West shaped modern music, to China.

Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, a group of young musicians who play traditional instruments, will give concerts and workshops in Suzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing's Forbidden City.

The tour starts with an Oct. 2 concert in Shanghai at the Special Olympics summer games for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

The message of the Silk Road Project, celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, is tolerance and understanding of different cultural traditions.

"Not just in terms of an informational way ... but also in terms of approach and the deep respect and spirituality for something," Ma said.

The project explores the impact of the Silk Road itself, the overland route between China and Europe that helped transfer technologies and cultural practices into new settings.

The ensemble will play Islamic music, Ma said. "If we play Mugham music, which is classical music of a lot of places including Azerbaijan, the art of Mugham music is not unlike the art of Indian music, which is meditative," Ma said.

Ma sees connections between Asian music and classical music. Beethoven, like the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, is trying to reach a "moment of transcendence" in his music, Ma said.

"You get to the first movement of Beethoven's violin concerto. You get to that moment where you break free. You earned it! ... You get to the divine! You get to the clouds! And that's what Sufi poetry and music tries to get to. Not so different," he said.

Ma, who will turn 52 while on tour in China, has spent a lifetime straddling cultures.
Born to Chinese parents in France, he moved to America as a boy and studied anthropology at Harvard despite his love of music.

He started the Silk Road Project to explore the connections between musical traditions. The cellist combines his Silk Road work with a demanding international concert career.
"This is not ideological. We're trying to just find out things. If we find something that has no connection to anything and it evolves on its own, that's great," he said.
"But it seems to us so far that the more we dig, the more you find there are connections."

With the 10th anniversary approaching, he's wondering how long he'll remain artistic director of the project though he has no plans yet to resign.

"I love the ensemble. It's like family to me. We've really had so many incredible adventures and experiences together. And I've learned so much from my friends, and I hope, I think my friends would say they've learned a lot from me, too," he said.

Much of the future depends on funding, he said.

The ensemble has performed in 23 countries, and recently completed a year-long residency in Chicago. In China it will perform works from its recent album, New Impossibilities.

[picture: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Photo Ariel Schalit/Associated Press].

1 comment:

irving said...

i love Yo Yo Ma :) Nice post.