Saturday, March 7, 2015

Yo Yo Ma's Thrilling Silk Road Ensemble


Call it global peace in action. Yo Yo Ma's world music chamber group, the Silk Road Ensemble, brings together virtuoso musicians from an incredibly wide range of musical cultures, and it was exhilarating to see them in action at Boston's Symphony Hall last Wednesday. The music can be contemplative and high spirited, often within the space of a single song, as with the video posted here. You've never heard or seen anything quite like it. A bit like the future in store for us if we get our act together and take a cue from the great cellist's vision: "The Silk Road Ensemble," he said in the concert's program notes, "is a musical model for cultural citizenship. It shows how culture can help us connect with each other, and how that requires curiosity, collaboration, and wholehearted enthusiasm."

The message became immediate with the evening's final composition, contributed by the Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh. He dedicated the piece -- a musical portrait of a typically exuberant Syrian wedding ceremony -- to the millions of refugees displaced by Syria's catastrophic civil war, and also, tellingly, to all those among his countrymen who meet, fall in love, and get married, even during these dark times. War will never defeat us, I think, and if we stand up for the good and beautiful things, for the miracle of the human spirit, we can move further down the road to where war might one day be on the run.

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