Music Initiative at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Download flyerDownload flyer in PDF format“In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals”
Geneva, 18 November 2011 – As part of the opening of New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum will co-present a concert of new music featuring music commissioned by the Aga Khan Music Initiative on 9 December 2011.
The concert, entitled “In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals”, features musicians from the Music Initiative’s roster:
* Homayun Sakhi, Afghan rubab;
* Rahul Sharma, santur;
* Salar Nader, tabla and zerbaghali;
* Sirojiddin Juraev, dutar and tanbur; and
* Mukhtor Muborakqadomov, Badakhshani setar.
Homayun Sakhi, who leads the ensemble, is the most renowned virtuoso of the Afghan rubab (short-necked, double-chambered lute) of his generation. For more information about Homayun Sakhi, please see the Music Initiative website. For inforrmation about ordering the CD/DVD of the ensemble's music, please see Smithsonian Folkways.
Much as the Mughal Empire created a synthesis of music from various lands, the concert brings together five cosmopolitan-minded musicians from Central Asia, Afghanistan and Northern India with the aim of merging their musical instruments and traditions to create new sounds. The Music Initiative supports such efforts in a variety of contexts.
“In the Footsteps of Babur” refers to the first Mughal emperor Babur, who began a journey of conquest in Afghanistan and Hindustan in the year 899 (June 1494) and eventually laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire in what is now northern India. The artistic legacy of the Mughals today range from music to painting to some of the most revered monuments in the world, including the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb.
A CD/DVD collection entitled “Music of Central Asia Vol. 9: In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals” is available from Smithsonian Folkways. It contains 63 minutes in nine music tracks, a 44-page Booklet and a DVD containing a 22-minute film on the musicians and a film introducing the series, as well as an interactive glossary and map.
Tickets are US$35. Please see the flyer above for more information about the concert.
Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan and Serena Hotels help produce video
"Islamabad, November 20: Pakistan’s Ambassador, Hussain Haroon, has given DVDs of the video song titled “Yahan”, performed by Amanat Ali Khan, to the members of United Nations General Assembly. The video was produced by Zarminae Ansari – a renowned architect, writer and activist of Pakistan, with the help of Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan and Serena Hotels."
Now, take a Sufi walk in the bylanes of Nizamuddin basti
New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) For the lovers of the Sufi tradition, a visit to the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was always a mystic experience, but the exercise can now turn out to be a mini pilgrimage of sorts, thanks to the efforts of a group of young heritage volunteers.
While the site where Delhi''s most revered saint is buried continues to draw thousands of people, most of them overlook the fact that the complex also houses the graves of a number of other renowned Sufis, mostly the followers of Hazrat Nizamuddin and his Chistia tradition.
What also comes with the tombs and monuments at one of Delhi''s oldest settlements is a remarkable bunch of legends and lores associated with these saints that have in many cases been transferred through the ages through word of mouth.
Now, local volunteers of ''Sair-e-Nizamuddin'', a youth self help group, which has been conducting heritage walks for outsiders in the area, has added another dimension to their guided tours -- that of ''Sufi walks''.
"The area is home to one of the richest Sufi traditions and we have introduced this tour wherein we would take visitors around the basti, touching the graves of the Khalifas of Nizamuddin Auliya and tell them the mystical stories of these legends," says Mohammad Umair, a young volunteer.
So, the walk takes you to the graves of Amir Khasrau, and others like Patte Shah, Baba Bhure Shah, and Dada Pir, and enriches you with the stories associated with them.
"Such was the love between Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and his disciple Amir Khasrau that the former once stated that if my religion permitted me I would have wished the two of us are buried in the same grave," says Umair as he passionately guides his visitors around alleys of the centuries old area.
The volunteers have been groomed as part of an urban renewal initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture that seeks to revive the cultural richness of the basti.
"This area encompasses centuries of tradition and through our efforts we not only want to instill pride in the people about their own heritage but also help them reap benefits out of it and take it beyond to the outside world," says Ratish Nanda, Director of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project, of the AKTC. .
Click on the image to download the catalogue (PDF, 7MB)"The Arts of Darb al Ahmar", a catalogue showcasing the unique arts of Egyptian craftspeople who work in the district of Darb al-Ahmar, at the heart of Historic Cairo, is now available.
The designers and producers featured in the catalogue received support from the First MicroFinance Foundation in Egypt, either through loans or business support services. The First MicroFinance Foundation is a part of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM).
AKAM’s work in Darb al-Ahmar is part of the much larger programme of revitalisation undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the district of 200,000 people. In addition to the Al-Azhar Park, constructed in an adjacent site by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, AKDN programmes encompass education, skills training, sanitation, revitalisation of housing and the restoration of landmark buildings.
Information for placing orders for the products is available in the catalogue.
The catalogue was made possible through the generous support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) as part of the Cairo Economic Livelihood Program (CELP).
This program features new music developed from an artistic collaboration supported by the Aga Khan Music Initiative. Inspired by visual images and literary descriptions of exuberant music-making in the Mughal courts, the Music Initiative brings together musicians from Afghanistan, India, and Tajikistan with the aim of merging their talents, traditions, and musical instruments to create new sounds.
This event is presented in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has just released the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Media and Publications. This is a comprehensive list of books, monographs and publications covering the topics of culture, architecture, cities, music and museums and exhibitions and reflecting the needs and aspirations of Muslim societies. Each topic is introduced with an explanatory note. Download at the source:
PAS Kabul is currently funding a grant to enable school-aged Afghan children to visit the Kabul cultural site, Babur Gardens. This grant is operated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Babur Gardens was originally laid out in the early 16th century by the founder of the Moghul Empire. To date, almost 11,000 children, aged 7 to 14 have taken part in the school visits. By Year’s end, 17,000 children will have the opportunity to reconnect with this important piece of Afghan cultural heritage.
Renowned for finding musical common ground across a seemingly limitless expanse of cultures and traditions, Grammy-winners and Lively Arts favorites the Kronos Quartet return for a solo set and a joint performance with Azerbaijan’s revered Alim Qasimov Ensemble—a magically cohesive partnership heard on Kronos’ recent albums Floodplain (2009) and Rainbow (2010). A member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and winner of the prestigious IMC-UNESCO International Music Prize, Qasimov is one of the greatest living masters of mugham, a classical Azerbaijani vocal tradition. Kronos founder/violinist David Harrington said he was “magnetized” upon first hearing Qasimov sing, adding, “His voice drew me so close that it has become part of my own inner singing.”
Aga Khan Music Initiative Launches University Residency Series 2012 in United States
Alim Qasimov Ensemble, Homayun Sakhi Trio, and Kronos Quartet to offer workshops, lecture-demos and concerts on college and university campuses across the United States
Geneva, 8 February 2012 - Following the success of its 2010 University Residency Series, the Aga Khan Music Initiative is launching a new programme of workshops, lecture-demonstrations and concert performances at seven prestigious American colleges and universities: Brandeis, Dartmouth, Emory, Harvard, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Maryland.
The programme kicks off in early February at University of California, Berkeley with a concert featuring the pioneering collaborative work of the Alim Qasimov Ensemble and the Kronos Quartet, America’s premiere new music quartet. The Qasimov Ensemble and Kronos Quartet will subsequently visit Stanford, Emory, and the University of Maryland.
A second artistic collaboration will premiere at Dartmouth College and Brandeis University in early March. The trio of Homayun Sakhi, the outstanding Afghan rubab player of his generation, Salar Nader, one of the young international stars of Indian percussion, and Ken Zuckerman, a long-time disciple of the great sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, will perform raga music from North India and Afghanistan. The Afghan rubab and sarod are kindred instruments that, despite common origins in Mughal musical culture, are now rarely played together. Through the popular convention of jugalbandi—a duet of two soloists--Sakhi and Zuckerman revitalize the dazzling achievements of Mughal cultural synthesis. During the Dartmouth-Brandeis residency period Homayun Sakhi and Ken Zuckerman will also offer lecture-demonstrations at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively, and the full trio will hold a workshop and perform a concert at the Asia Society, New York City.
The Aga Khan Music Initiative and the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet have collaborated since 2007 on a project that brings the quartet together with leading musicians from Central Asia and the Middle East to compose, arrange, and perform tradition-based new music. The initial results of this work were released on the award-winning Smithsonian Folkways CD-DVD Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim and Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi.
The University Residency Programme advances the Aga Khan Music Initiative’s mission of encouraging intercultural and interregional musical collaboration, promoting education about the music and culture of the Islamic world, and introducing leading musicians from Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa to Western audiences.
For more information, contact:
Aga Khan Music Initiative
1-3 Avenue de la Paix
Tel. +41 22 909 7200
Asia Society Announces CREATIVE VOICES OF MUSLIM ASIA Upcoming Performances
Asia Society, as part of the 2012 spring season of its series “Creative Voices in Muslim Asia,” is pleased to present one of the most outstanding Afghan rubab players of his generation, Homayun Sakhi, in concert with Switzerland-based sarod virtuoso Ken Zuckerman, a leading disciple of the late Ali Akbar Khan and a consummate master in his own right.
Sharing the stage for the first time, the two masters will be joined by the young tabla prodigy Salar Nader, and together they will demonstrate how personal style can perfectly merge with classical patterns. This concert will be held in conjunction with Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi (1705-1857), a ninety-piece exhibition which explores the artistic influence Delhi had, when it moved from being the heart of the late Mughal Empire to becoming the jewel in the crown of the British Raj (Asia Society Museum, February 7-May 6). The concert is presented in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
“In the Footstep of Babur”: “Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals” will take place at Asia Society’s Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium on Saturday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m. Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street, New York City). Tickets are $22 for members, $26 for seniors/students, and $30 for non members. The concert will be preceded by a free pre-performance lecture by Theodore Levin (Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music, Dartmouth College) at 7:00 pm. For tickets and details, please visit http://asiasociety.org/arts/creative-voices-islam-asia or call 212-517-ASIA.
Fusing cultural influences from Persia, Central Asia, and India, the Mughal courts that ruled India and the territory that later became Afghanistan created a brilliant intellectual and artistic efflorescence which resonatEd Strongly in painting and music. Beginning in the mid-19th century, at the sunset of the Mughal Empire, Hindustani musicians were patronized by the local ruling family of Kabul, where they created a Kabuli tradition of raga performance whose principal instruments were Afghan rubab accompanied by tabla. The present-day avatar of this tradition is Homayun Sakhi, whose performance style has been shaped not only by the musical traditions to which Afghan music is geographically and historically linked, but also by his lively interest in contemporary music from around the world.
This event is presented as part of “Creative Voices of Muslim Asia,” an ongoing multidisciplinary series that celebrates the many and diverse ways in which Muslims express their creative voices at the beginning of the 21st century. Launched in 2008, the series aims to put art at the center of bridging the cultural divide between Americans and Asian Muslims, one that has too often been misrepresented in the mainstream media. In doing so, it highlights the artistry of individuals while exploring the cultural richness of the Muslim world.
About the Artists:
Since immigrating to the United States in 2002, Homayun Sakhi has established a worldwide reputation as the outstanding Afghan rubab player of his generation. Born in Kabul into one of Afghanistan’s leading musical families, he studied rubab with his father, Ustad Ghulam Sakhi, in the traditional form of apprenticeship known as ustad-shagird. Ghulam Sakhi was heir to a musical lineage that began in the 1860s, when the ruler of Kabul, Amir Sher Ali Khan, brought classically trained musicians from India to perform at his court. Over the next hundred years, Indian musicians thrived there, and Kabul became a center for the performance of North Indian classical music. Homayun Sakhi currently resides in Fremont, California, a major cultural center of Afghan émigré life, where he opened a school to teach Afghan music to children.
Ken Zuckerman, internationally acclaimed as one of the finest sarod virtuosos performing today, has also been called “…one of the world’s most eclectic masters of improvisation.” His training under the rigorous discipline of India’s legendary sarod master Ustad Ali Akbar Khan lasted for thirty-seven years, until Maestro Khan’s passing, in 2009. He also performed with Ali Akbar Khan in numerous concerts in Europe, India, and the United States. In addition to his extensive performance schedule, Ken Zuckerman directs the Ali Akbar College of Music in Basel, Switzerland and is a professor at the Music Conservatory of Basel, where he teaches both North Indian classical music and European music of the Middle Ages.
Restored two years ago, Mazar-e-Ghalib in Nizamuddin a cultural hub
Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:45 AM PST
From a dilapidated and neglected monument to a vibrant cultural hub — the Mazar-e-Ghalib and its neighbouring Chaunsath Khamba have come alive with cultural programmes since they were restored around two years ago.
In yet another programme, coinciding with the death anniversary of famous poet Mirza Asad Ullah Baig Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) a.k.a. Mirza Ghalib, a day-long cultural event will be organised at Mazar-e-Ghalib on Wednesday.
After offering a chadar at the mazar, the event will start with Sair-e-Nizamuddin, a heritage walk exploring the myriad lanes and bylanes of Nizamuddin Basti and the surrounding areas; poetry-recitation competition for school kids, screening of ‘Mirza Ghalib’, a TV serial by Gulzar and a play on ‘The Life and Works of Mirza Ghalib’. The evening will conclude with ghazal recital by Gulshan Ara.
“Since March 2010, programmes like quawwalis, mushairas and dastan goi have been organised at Chaunsath Khamba,” said Irfan Zuberi from Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).
Preview: America’s Kronos Quartet, Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov Ensemble to join for musical magic
Share|By Mark Gresham | Feb 14, 2012
The Kronos Quartet (Photo by Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgreen)
The cultures of Azerbaijan and America will meet onstage when the Kronos Quartet and the Alim Qasimov Ensemble perform together this Friday at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Each group will showcase its own set, then they will join to perform love songs drawn from ashiqs, the bardic singer-songwriters of Azerbaijan. News of the concert has spread rapidly among local Kronos fans, and word at this writing is that only a limited number of tickets are still available.
Kronos will open the first half with some of its own repertoire: “Clouded Yellow” by Michael Gordon, “Aheym (Homeward)” by Bryce Dessner, and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” arranged by Philip Glass. Qasimov will follow with mugham, the traditional high-art Islamic religious music of Azerbaijan.
“I think of our opening set as a counterpoint to their opening set, and their opening set is a counterpoint to the songs that we do together,” Kronos founder and violinist David Harrington said in a telephone interview. “The songs we will do together are a combination of love songs and mugham. They’re intertwined. The mugham is surrounding and embedded within the song. When you hear it, you’ll get it right away.”
Kronos and Qasimov first got together in 2008 as the initial project in a collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, which supports Central Asian musicians to sustain and develop their musical traditions. The initial week-long rehearsals, in San Francisco, included Kronos, Alim Qasimov and two of his musicians, arranger Jacob Garchik and a translator. The challenge was to get the notation-oriented Kronos players to interface with the semi-improvised traditions of the equally virtuosic Azeri musicians, and vice versa.
A few months later came several days of rehearsals in London for the world premiere of the music at the Barbican’s Ramadan Nights festival, followed by studio recording sessions. In the San Francisco rehearsals, Alim Qasimov had sung the vocal parts. His daughter, Fargana, joined in the London rehearsals. “All of a sudden, the meaning and the breadth and depth of the songs was incredibly enlarged,” Harrington said. “Every time [we perform], the music takes another step toward itself.”
Alim and Fargana Qasimov (Photo courtesy of Aga Khan Development Network)
A stunning example of sudden insight took place a week and a half ago, when the two groups performed in Berkeley, California, the first stop on their current American tour. Winter weather in both Europe and Central Asia had become historically intense, and there were big snowstorms in Azerbaijan and England. The Qasimov Ensemble missed its planned flight to London from Baku, Azerbaijan, and as a result the two groups didn’t have their scheduled rehearsal. Instead, they had to rehearse in the hours just before the concert.
“It was astonishing,” Harrington recalled. “The intensity, after not having performed for five or six months together and having little time to brush up, added this amazing kind of energy to the performance. Everybody was going for it in a new way.”
Harrington likened it to a salient moment early in the Grammy Award-winning string quartet’s history, a rehearsal with Terry Riley in the early 1980s. “I felt the sound of the group all of a sudden change,” he said. “There was that moment, that magic moment when it made sense and there was really a new sound that we hadn’t made before. Those moments are really very special. Not only is there kind of a new word, there’s a new color in the vocabulary. At that moment the door seems to be open for many new words, and newer colors beyond that.”
The recent Berkeley concert reopened some of those doors and colors. “We were creating a bed for Alim and Fargana to sing mugham over, and then we were creating commentary along with the other members of the group,” Harrington explained. “It felt as though our commentary was part of a different language than we had ever spoken before. It was a very exciting moment. Maybe the audience didn’t hear it, but I could feel it, and I was really happy about that.”
It’s the kind of moment every musician dreams of, when everything on stage clicks together and the music transcends itself. “We all know we can feel it inside, feel the tingle in our backs when it might happen,” Harrington said. “They can be very, very unexpected, those moments. That’s what binds all music together, those very rare experiences. Alim and Fargana are two of the most wonderful singers that I’ve ever heard, and I’m sure you will hear several of those magical moments come from their voices in Atlanta.”
Kronos Quartet and Alim Qasimov Ensemble: Friday, February 17, 8 p.m., Emerson Concert Hall, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
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AKTC expresses interest in working on Hyderabad monuments
A delegation from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has shown keen interest in undertaking beautification of the monuments, had visited them in October last and is going to pay another visit in the next few weeks to take its initiative a step further. The trust had proposed an MoU with the Archaeology Department to chalk out a programme for documentation, laying of gardens, conservation of monuments, civic amenities and involving local community under public-private partnership mode.
Keeping the genius of Khusrau of alive
PTI | 09:02 PM,Feb 19,2012
New Delhi, Feb 19 (PTI) If one sets about the task of reviving 14th century Sufi legend Amir Khusrau's legacy, his pioneering contribution to the devotional musical artform of 'qawwali' is where much of the work begins. One of the most revered Sufi legends of Delhi -- Khusrau is one of the major subjects of the revival and preservation efforts in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti area, where the qawwali tradition is being discussed, debated and compiled in its purest form. 'Jashn-e-Khusrau' -- a collection in book form of the events of a 2010 festival that celebrated the mystical poetry of Khusrau as performed in the genre of qawwali, was released today by Minister of Culture Kumari Shelja. The book not only compiles the discussions, debates and lectures that were conducted during the 2010 festival, but also elaborates in detail on the vast repertoire of 'khanaqahi qawwali', with essays on the history, tradition, and literature of the genre. "We not only should celebrate Khusrau but we also have to take him out to this world. We owe it to the rest of the world to keep him alive.... We should familiarise the world with Khusrau," said Shelja, before the historic monument of Chausanth Khamba came alive with Wajahat Hussain Badayuni Qawwal and his group's rendering of Khusrau's kalam. Shelja said while the commercial aspect of tourism was important, efforts should also be made to link tourism to the desire to share the rich history and legacy of the capital with active participation from the local population. "I feel very strongly that being proud of our heritage, we should be happy sharing it with the outside world," she said while commending the efforts of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to revive the heritage of the area with active participation of the local people. The book comprises of essays that introduce the history, and literature of 'khanaqahi qawwali' as attributed to Khusrau, a beloved disciple of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya. It also compiles his Sufi poetry that has been kept alive for over 750 years by the qawwali singers of the Chishtiya tradition, in calligraphy along with transliterations and translations. What also comes with the book are three music discs, that would be a delight to ears of lovers of Sufi tradition. The compilation is part of a larger effort by the Archaeological Survey of India and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to document, revive, disseminate the 700 years of intangible living cultural heritage of Nizamuddin Basti. PTI WAJ
Kinship Between China and Central Asia on “Borderlands: Wu Man And Master Musicians From The Silk Route”
By ARomero– March 10, 2012
Posted in: New CDs
Smithsonian Folkways and the Aga Khan Music Initiative have announced the tenth and final release of their award-winning “Music of Central Asia” series. The last album of the prestigious series is a CD/DVD set titled “Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route”.
Wu Man, an internationally renowned virtuoso of the pipa (a pear-shaped, short-necked lute dating back to the 7th century), and Central Asian master musicians embark on an unprecedented collaboration between Chinese classical, Uyghur, and Tajik tradition bearers.
The group explores the music from the Chinese borderlands of the Silk Route, a four thousand mile passage that for two millennia has connected regions stretching north and west from the Great Wall of China to the Mediterranean Sea.
Joining the Chinese-born, U.S.-based Wu Man are Abduvali Abdurashidov (sato-tanbur) and Sirojiddin Juraev (dutar) from Tajikistan’Ma Ersa (vocals) from the Gansu province of China; and Abdulla Majnun (diltar, dutar, tambur), Hesenjan Tursun (satar), Sanubar Tursun (dutar), and Yasin Yaqup (dap) from Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. These musicians represent cultures of the Silk Route through traditional performances, with music played on the pipa for the first time in over eight hundred years.
“The collaborations made my musical fantasy come true,” says Wu Man. “I often imagined what it would be like if the pipa were mixed with instruments such as satar, tambur and dutar.”
The music includes newly arranged traditional songs and original. The CD/DVD package includes a documentary film about the region, musicians, and recording process as well as an instrument glossary and detailed liner notes.
Born in China, Wu Man was trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory and has lived in the US since 1990. Her groundbreaking musical work with the pipa has led to starring roles in pieces by contemporary composers such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and Evan Ziporyn performed by the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles.
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