Interviewed in Boston where he was attending the Tanglewood Festival before coming to Toronto, Ma says it was the Aga Khan who initially urged him to fulfil his dream of creating an international, multi-faith, multi-tradition team of musicians.
The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader, or imam, of the world’s Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He has used his wealth to foster peaceful international respect and chose Toronto as the site of his cultural centre because “it is the most global city in the world,” says Ma.
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Massey Hall and the Aga Khan Museum unite to present Silk Road Ensemble film and concert
By: Trish Crawford Published on Thu Sep 10 2015
Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma had a dream that music could unite cultures and he searched the world in 2000 for members of his Silk Road Ensemble.
Hailing from more than 20 different countries, the music collective creates and performs works resonating with both tradition and innovation.
Then, Sept. 11 happened and Ma, seeing fear and distrust in its wake, became convinced that the arts had an even more important role in promoting international co-operation.
“I decided to continue with more fortitude and passion. We have to have enough hope in our world for people to say, ‘This is worth going for,’” he says.
On Sept. 15, the ensemble performs at Massey Hall in a concert presented in collaboration with the Aga Khan Museum, where the ensemble will have a weeklong residency working with students.
The link between TIFF, Massey Hall and the Aga Khan Museum demonstrates the kind of artistic co-operation that has been the hallmark of the ensemble’s mission, says Ma.
The ensemble fits the goals of the Aga Khan Museum, says Amir Ali Alibhai, the museum’s head of performing arts. “Our mission is to connect cultures through the arts and they exemplify that.”
All the members of the ensemble are composers as well as musicians — they include Canadian Jeffrey Beecher, principal bass player with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra — and their original works will be presented at the Massey Hall concert, featuring singer Aynur from Eastern Turkey.
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