For Humayun’s sake, Samarkand comes to Delhi with a secret
Sweta Dutta,Sweta Dutta Posted: Jun 26, 2011 at 0124 hrs
New Delhi In sultry Delhi, 61-year-old Namandjon Mavlyanov finds the weather unbearable and the food strange. But nothing distracts him when he is at work, running his fingers through soil and shaking chemicals to get that “exact” shade, one that befits the tomb of Emperor Humayun whose ancestors came from Namandjon’s homeland.
After weeks of experiments with clay, quartz, types of soil and chemicals, a team of three artisans and an architect from Uzbekistan, have finally been able to recreate the five shades of tiles that the Mughals originally used on Humayun’s Tomb.
But why call in the Uzbeks? Because the tomb of Humayun, commissioned by his wife Hamida Banu Begum a few years after he fell to death in 1556, was modelled on Gur-e Amir, the mausoleum of his ancestor Timur in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The tilework is a complex, traditional art form in Uzbekistan, passed down generations.
So from the time they arrived in Delhi this February, architect Farkhod Bagirov and craftsmen Namandjon Mavlyanov, Kurbon Melikov and Bakhodurkhuja Rakhmatov have been working with the local conservation team to get those exact shades of green, lapis blue, turquoise blue, yellow and white on the tiles.
“The artisans have picked up the skill from their forefathers and have over 40 years of experience in traditional tile-making. We have worked at the historic sites of Registan Square in Samarkand, Gur-e-Amir,
Bibi Khanum Mosque. But working here is a new challenge altogether. It is an overwhelming experience to recreate what the great rulers had originally made,” Farkhod told The Sunday Express.
As part of a larger urban renewal project in the greater Nizamuddin area, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is undertaking conservation works on the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and co-funding from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.
Though craft traditions survive in India, AKTC discovered that the tile-making tradition of the Mughals had long been abandoned. A persistent research programme saw craftsmen being called from Uzbekistan and experimenting for six months.
Having found the exact composition, the team is now passing on the knowledge to craftsmen from the local Nizamuddin community to produce tiles that match the original tiles in every respect.
The Uzbek craftsmen will head home once the process for mass production is in place. Officials estimate it could take up to two years to produce all the hand-made tiles in the two kilns, set up in a remote corner of the site.
Local youths being trained in tile production will be engaged in the conservation works and provided micro-finance to set up establishments. “The considerable effort will not only result in restoring the grandeur of this most significant of Mughal buildings but also resurrect a craft tradition that has been sadly lost in the last generation. Local youths being trained in the craft receive much economic benefit,” said Ratish Nanda, Project Director, AKTC.
Though the production cost will be less than Rs 2 lakh, over Rs 30 lakh has been spent on research, documentation, consultation and peer review in an effort to find the best conservation solution.
The process began with physical and chemical analysis at different laboratories worldwide including Oxford University, Barcelona, IIT Roorkee, Iran and Uzbekistan. The technique in Uzbekistan was found to be the closest to the original process.
In April 2009, a joint workshop with UNESCO had seen 40 experts from nine tile-producing Asian countries debating the best solution.
“In keeping with best conservation practices, it was agreed at the outset that no tile will be removed, even where the glaze has been lost. New tiles, matching the original, needed to be prepared only for portions of the domed canopies covered with cement,” said Sangeeta Bais, AKTC conservation architect.
B R Mani, ASI Additional Director General, said: “Ceramic tiles were both decorative and protective. The long research and discussion on tile-restoration at Humayun’s Tomb will not only feed the National Conservation Policy being prepared at the ASI but will hopefully be used as a basis for conservation work elsewhere in the Islamic world.”
Aga Khan Trust helps restore 16th century tomb
Submitted by admin4 on 19 July 2011 - 6:26pm
New Delhi : The Sunderwala Burj, a 16th century mausoleum adjacent to Mughal emperor Humayun's tomb, has been given a major facelift by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, with the US embassy funding and support of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The mausoleum, part of the Humayun's tomb complex, was restored at a cost of $50,000 from the American Ambassador's Fund for Culture Preservation and a matching grant of the Aga Khan Trust, said conservation architect Ratish Nanda, who head the trust's projects in India.
The trust is also spending in excess of $10 million to landscape the Sunder nursery surrounding the tomb as part of its Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative.
"Though protected, the Sunderwala Burj had lost its original architectural and historic character due to inappropriate repairs using modern materials such as cement," nanda told IANS.
"The actual conservation was preceded by an exhaustive documentation, including a 3D laser scan, that revealed the striking patterns on the ceiling, original polychromy layers and the original extent of the building plinth," Nanda said.
The white and red contrast, one of the favourite colour palettes of the Mughal builders, has been restored with "white lime mortar mixed with marble dust and egg white ground by hand for months," he said.
The tomb is unique for its ornamental ceiling inscribed with floral motifs and scripts seen in Kashmiri and Persian wooden ceilings, he said.
"The ceiling had suffered extensive damage because of water seepage," Nanda said.
A band of Quranic inscription circling the inner wall surfaces of the mausoleum just over the doorway has been carefully recorded and is being restored by calligraphers from the adjoining Nizamuddin 'basti', the architect said.
More than 100 master craftsmen were engaged for nine months to restore missing portions of the ornamentation and replace cement plaster layers with lime mortar, he said.
"Local youth from the adjoining community at Nizamuddin were trained in building craft traditions to help restore the tomb," Nanda said.
Conservation work should aim to restore the intention of the original builders by engaging master craftsmen, and thus create employment and help keep craft skills alive, he added.
The Conservation of Sunderwala Burj is part of the larger Humayun’s Tomb – Sunder Nursery – Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal project, a not-for – profit Public Private Partnership between the Archaeological Survey of India, Central Public Works Department, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Aga Khan Development Network.
HISTORY With exquisitely ornamented plasterwork on the ceilings, unique in Delhi, this early 16th century building is amongst the earliest building built during the Mughal reign and stands within the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.
The Sunderwala Burj suffered severe decay to the decorative plasterwork due to water seepage from the terrace. 20th century and later repair works using modern materials such as cement had adversely affected the original architectural integrity and caused further deterioration.
STUDIES Conservation works undertaken with AFCP grant, were preceded with a year long programme of scientific investigation, material and architectural documentation by the ASI- AKTC team. The architectural study was coupled with a focused archival research programme, Structural analysis by a UK based consultant, High definition survey using 3D laser scanning equipment, detailed condition mapping and GPRS (Ground Penetrating Radar Survey) of the site– all aimed at making this a model conservation project in the Indian context.
As part of the ongoing project the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation is funding the conservation of Sunderwala Burj. On 4-May 2011, the U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer laid the first sandstone slab on the floor that will mark the beginning of the final phase of works.
The conservation works followed a systematic and scientific approach. All works carried out using traditional materials, craft techniques and tools my master craftsmen who have inherited craft skills. Works have been supervised by a multi-disciplinary team comprising Conservation architects, engineers, material scientists and archaeologists.
The most significant of the building element, approximately 15% of the ceiling that was lost has been carefully restored. The remaining portion was carefully stabilised and cleaned to reveal its original glory.
Large portion of cement plaster t the internal and external walls and even the dome surface was carefully removed to retard further deterioration. This was replaced with lime plaster prepared with traditional additives such as gur, belgriri, sand and brick dust. Red polychromy was visible even prior to conservation works but greater portionhs were revealed during the cleaning process. Matching the interior surfaces and the external contrast of the Humayun’s Tomb, the final white and red surfaces have been restored with several ‘protective coats’ of lime plaster with the natural geru added for the red polychromy. No paint has been used – significant since with the use of traditional materials the patina will return within a few monsoons.
STONE LATTICE SCREEN
The four arched openings over the doorways originally had sandstone lattice screens which seem to have been removed in the 20th century for the antique market. To respect the original design intention and secure the interiors from birds, sandstone screens carved with traditional tools and master craftsmen have been restored to the arched openings.
Archival photographs, Ground Penetrating Radar survey revealed the extent of the plinth which will be clad with sandstone and afford great views to the surrounding areas and even to Humayun’s Tomb.
Together with the conservation works, in order to enhance the historical character AKTC is undertaking landscaping in partnership with the CPWD. The plinth is surrounded by an almost equally deep enclosed garden.
PERSIAN PATTERNS emerge in Burj revival
Aga Khan Trust helps restore the Sunderwala Burj, a 16th century tomb
Community approach to rehabilitation of historic district
Thu, 11/08/2011 - 19:07
For nearly 12 years, the Agha Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has been leading an exemplary development initiative in the historic neighborhood of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar (ADAA) in Cairo.
An overview of this unprecedented experience in Egypt highlights issues of sustainable development practices in general, with a special focus on historical districts.
Al-Darb Al-Ahmar is a popular neighborhood part of historic Cairo. It surrounds Al-Azhar Park on its western edge, an area where a 1.5 kilometer long portion of an Ayyubid wall was revealed by the removal of accumulated rubble.
Home to roughly 100,000 residents, the area is considered one of the poorest parts of Islamic Cairo. A 2003 baseline survey of ADAA revealed that the average monthly income per household was LE500 and that 70 per cent of the population was living under the poverty threshold.
The Sunderwala Burj, a 16th century mausoleum in New Delhi, has been given a makeover by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture with financial support from the US ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.
It was restored at a cost of $50,000 and a matching grant by the Aga Khan Trust, conservation architect Ratish Nanda, who heads the trust's projects in India, said on Friday.
The mausoleum is located in the midst of the lush Sunder nursery adjacent to Mughal emperor Humayun's tomb. It is a part of the Humayun's tomb complex.
Nanda visited the restored tomb on Friday with United States charge d'affaires Peter Burleigh to assess the restoration work.
The trust is also spending more than $10mn to landscape the Sunder nursery as part of its Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, which aims to benefit communities living in and around the complex, Nanda said.
"The actual conservation was preceded by an exhaustive documentation, including a 3D laser scan that revealed the striking patterns on the ceiling, original polychromy (colours) layers and the original extent of the building plinth," Nanda said.
The tomb is unique for its ornamental ceiling inscribed with floral motifs and scripts seen in Kashmiri and Persian wooden ceilings, he said.
A band of Quranic inscription circling the inner wall surfaces of the mausoleum just over the doorway has been carefully recorded and is being restored by calligraphers from the adjoining Nizamuddin 'basti' or slums, the architect said.
More than 100 master craftsmen were engaged for nine months to restore missing portions of the ornamentation and replace cement plaster layers with lime mortar, he said.
"Local youth from the adjoining community at Nizamuddin were trained in building craft traditions to help restore the tomb," Nanda said.
Come, Khusro, let us go home August 2011
By Rakhshanda Jalil
New life in Basti Nizamuddin.
Can culture become a catalyst for development? Can a living culture – that spans seven centuries – be transformed into an engine of growth and regeneration? Can a blend of music, ritual, food, crafts and local traditions be harnessed to improve the quality of life? Can a local community that has, despite occupying the beating heart of a much-venerated spiritual space, be made to shed some of its isolation? Can the effects of long years of disempowerment and disenfranchisement be remedied through confidence-building and inclusive growth plans? Going by preservation and resuscitation work currently taking place in the Basti Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, such goals seem to be entirely possible. A slew of recent initiatives in the vicinity of the Nizamuddin dargah has shown that cultural revival and urban renewal can become two sides of the same coin of development.
The 900-year-old fort, which received a 2011 UNESCO Culture heritage award, is an important cultural monument and tourist attraction.Bangkok, 1 September 2011 - The restoration of Altit Fort in Pakistan, an Aga Khan Trust for Culture project undertaken by the Aga Khan Cultural Service, has received an Award of Distinction at the 2011 UNESCO Asian-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Conservation works for the 900-year-old Altit Fort focused on mending structural defects, stabilising and repairing existing walls, replacing some roofs, treating wood decay and providing appropriate lighting.
“The Award of Distinction winner Altit Fort in Hunza, Pakistan represents yet another step forward in the model of community-based conservation practice that has been evolving in the body of work of the Aga Khan Cultural Service of Pakistan,” says the UNESCO Citation. “Meticulous historical research and scientific investigation informed the conservation work, which successfully tackled a complex array of problems. Today the building has regained its iconic place in the Hunza Valley and now serves as a beacon to inspire future generations.”
A unique aspect of the work was that the village at the base of the fort was restored before the fort. The village had been in danger of becoming deserted in favour of new construction; a third of its residents had already moved away. Because the new construction was using up valuable arable land, conservation efforts at Altit proceeded in reverse order: the village rehabilitation before the Fort. The introduction of water and sanitation facilities proved vital to the revitalisation of the traditional settlement.
The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation present the awards in the belief that “recognising private efforts to restore and adapt historic properties will encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within the community, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships”.
Since 2002, AKTC has received a number of conservation awards, including several previous UNESCO Culture Heritage Conservation awards. Please see Awards for more information.
For more information about the UNESCO award, please see the UNESCO website.
Abdallah Abo Zekry from Egypt and Sirojiddin Juraev from Tajikistan, two of the musicians collaborating in the sixth Remix Music Workshop in Aswan, Egypt.Abdallah Abo Zekry from Egypt and Sirojiddin Juraev from Tajikistan, two of the musicians collaborating in the sixth Remix Music Workshop in Aswan, Egypt.Aswan, 18 September 2011 - The Aga Khan Music Initiative and Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Culture Resource) launched the Sixth Remix music workshop and tour under the leadership of Egyptian music director Fathy Salama and Lebanese composer and oud player Charbel Rouhana.
Daily workshop and creative exchange sessions will take place in Aswan until 28 September. Two concerts featuring the Remix 2011 musicians will be performed, the first in Aswan on Friday, 30 September at the Open Air Theatre at Cornish El Nil, and the second, on 1 October at the El Genaina Theatre in Cairo’s Al-Azhar Park.
Remix 2011 offers a crucible for creative encounters among young musicians and composers from the Arab world and Central Asia—regions whose cultural links go back more than a millennium. During the workshop sessions, participants seek to reassemble diverse expressions of a shared musical heritage in contemporary forms. This artistic aim complements the broader goals of both Al Mawred and the Aga Khan Music Initiative, whose mission is to strengthen cultural pluralism in Central Asia and the Arab world.
Remix 2011 involves 17 participants from eight countries: Abdallah Abo Zekry, Ahmed Nazmi, Mohamed Sawah, Nada Ahmed and Wael Elfashny from Egypt; Firas Hassan, Kinan Idnawi, Bassel Rajoub, Rebal Alkhodri, and Salah Nameq from Syria; Badiaa Bou Hreizi from Tunisia; Ali Shaker from Iraq; Homayun Sakhi and Salar Nader from Afghanistan; Raouf Islamov from Azerbaijan; Sirojiddin Juraev from Tajikistan; and Abbos Kosimov from Uzbekistan.
Remix 2011 Music Director Fathy Salama is a Grammy Award-winning composer, arranger, producer, and pianist who has performed on prestigious concert and festival stages throughout the world with Sharkiat, the group that he founded and presently leads. Salama shares the artistic direction of Remix 2011 with acclaimed Lebanese composer and oud player Charbel Rouhana, whose eight CDs showcase his multifaceted career as a composer, arranger, musician and singer. Rouhana has toured and performed with many notable musicians, among them the legendary Marcel Khalife.
Remix 2011 is organized by Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy) in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initative (www.akdn.org/music), a nine-country music and arts education programme with worldwide performance, outreach, mentoring and production activities. Launched to support talented musicians and music educators working to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms, the Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia and subsequently expanded to include musicians and artistic communities from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
For more information or press interviews please contact:
Ratish Nanda, project director at the Aga Khan Foundation and arguably India’s most important architect, beats me by reaching Blanco – a Khan Market restaurant in south Delhi – a few minutes ahead of me and has picked a nice window table for us. He’s dressed in his trademark kurta, with an equally trademark ink-pen sticking out of his front pocket, the hallmark of someone who writes or sketches for a living, says Rajiv Rao.
We exchange pleasantries and order fresh-lime sodas. Nanda looks around apprehensively as if he’s being stalked. Once he finds out that this is a feature on him, he becomes even more nervous about the lunch. When I mention that I need a photograph from him for the sketch-artist, he’s about to bolt out of the door.
Somehow, we settle down and almost immediately start chatting about his project: revitalising three of Delhi’s most-treasured sites, Humayun’s Tomb, Nizamuddin basti and Sunder Nursery into one unique heritage precinct. I tell Nanda that my wife and I, just a few weekends ago, took our kids to Humayun’s tomb and it was a fabulous experience, with its lush Mughal gardens and waterworks, liberating our trapped urban souls with its sheer size, greenness and grandeur.
I’ve said the right thing apparently since Nanda sheds his inhibitions, whips out a pen and notebook and elegantly begins sketching the inner sanctum of the tomb with firm, concise strokes. The project is the first privately-funded restoration of a World Heritage Site in India, he tells me, spearheaded by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and in collaboration with several state agencies, including the Archaeological Survey of India, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Central Public Works Department. This kind of public-private partnership is the future of conservation, he says.
We decide to order. Nanda says he eats anything, having spent four years in Afghanistan working on Babur’s tomb. Since the menu doesn’t feature roast goat, we stick to prawn and fish: I go for the Spanish prawn skillet with a hint of basil, Nanda suggests a Goan fish-curry and we both hone in on a crispy red snapper in thai chilli-sauce.
Nanda sketches out the basic issues that confront his field today. “Our heritage is disappearing bit by bit, but this is somehow not a scandal,” he says. In Britain, Nanda points out, there are 600,000 protected buildings versus a paltry 7,000 in India. However, the British had a mummified approach to conservation in India, he says, which failed. “It completely ignored the local population,” he adds.
Nanda’s – or should I say the Aga Khan Foundation’s – work in the Nizamuddin basti is an example of the rewards of an alternative approach. The landscaping of the Chaunsath Khamba complex, for instance, the largest open space in the basti, has been re-configured as an open-air theatre, attracting both local residents and citizens from all over Delhi. “Until local communities can enjoy it and benefit from our heritage, it is of no use,” says Nanda.
Then there’s the issue of local craftsmanship — age-old traditions and material that we have totally abandoned. “Why are we building with glass and steel?” asks Nanda. I mention Jeb Brugmann, author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution, whom I met a few years ago and who talks about the Indian infatuation with aping Western structures that has sidelined traditional design concepts, like the “chowk”, which are far more suited to the Indian way of life. Nanda couldn’t agree more.
“Why aren’t we using sandstone?” asks Nanda. “Our craftsmen need to get work but our architects don’t know how to use tile work. The consequence is that the ceramic tile trade has died out and the same applies to stone craftsmen and even certain kinds of masons.” This is something Nanda says the foundation is trying to revive, especially when renovating structures like Humayun’s tomb.
The food arrives. The Spanish shrimp is surprisingly good – though small – the basil, a subtle touch and the red and green peppers nice and crunchy. The Goan fish-curry is decent, but nothing more. Nanda and I are hungry so we stop talking and attack with single-minded purpose.
After some spirited gorging, we lean back, wipe the sweat of our brow, and get back to the business at hand. Nanda, a Delhi boy who went to Modern and was a gold medallist at the School of Habitat Studies where he did his BA, once again emphasises that conservation needs to step out of its isolation and become sustainable. “Heritage is actually the only asset that locals have,” he says. The Aga Khan’s projects in basti Nizamuddin bear this out. Hundreds of youth and adults have been involved in a programme that included adult education, career counselling, vocational training and skill enhancement. The project has also improved streetlights, rebuilt water-harvesting systems, built open spaces for cricket games and community toilet complexes.
Clearly, culture can be a tool for development. But heritage also makes good business sense. “There has been a 1,000 per cent increase in ticket sales in just four months of Humayun’s Tomb being opened,” says Nanda. Meanwhile, we’ve dug into the Red Snapper and something seems rotten in the state of Delhi. I have a chat with one of the servers. Oh, that’s how Snapper is, he tells me confidently, with a broad grin. Both Nanda and I inform him gently that we both cook, buy fish regularly at the INA market and that it would be a good idea to remove the offending plate and tell the chef to check his batch before someone keels over, never to wake up again. The plate vanishes.
Wrapping up, I ask Nanda for what he thinks we need in India for conservation to succeed. Understand that conservation is cash, especially when it comes to the linkages between tourism and our economy, he says. “Instead we look at it as a burden rather than an economic asset,” he adds. I pay and we both leave, but not before I’ve secured a private tour of Nizamuddin from the man who brought it to life.
A Celebration of the Poetry and Music of Pakistan in Paris
Co-presented by Théatre de la Ville and the Aga Khan Music Initiative
Paris, 7 October 2011 -- The Aga Khan Music Initiative and Théatre de la Ville team continue their three-year partnership with a two-day celebration of Pakistani music and poetry at the Théatre de la Ville in Paris on the 8th and 9th of October 2011.
The weekend, featuring 20 Baluchi, Sindhi and Pashtun musicians and poets, will begin with readings of the folk stories and popular poetry of the nomads of Baluchistan. Sindhi master of the double flute Akbar Khamisu Khan will be accompanied on dholak by Mohamed Khan. Baluchi musicians include Mohammad Bashir and the singer Nawab Khan. Zarsanga, the queen of Pushtun music, will recite love poems called landays and other nomadic kuchi songs accompanied by her son Shahzad on tabla and Muhabat Khan on rubab. On 9 October, the vibrant Sufi poetry tradition will be explored. Through music and stories, the programme will highlight Sufi poetry’s function as a means of invoking and connecting with the transcendent. A special focus will be on the Qawwali tradition inspired by Hazrat Amir Khusraw and made famous by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at a Théatre de la Ville concert in 1985.
The Aga Khan Music Initiative (www.akdn.org/music) is a nine-country music and arts education programme, with a worldwide performance and production activities. Launched in 2000 by His Highness the Aga Khan to support talented musicians and music educators who are striving to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms, the Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia, eventually expanding to include musicians and artistic communities from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Since its inception, the Initiative has helped musicians, music educators and grassroots cultural strategists to recast musical traditions of the Silk Route in contemporary forms and contexts rooted in local cultural heritage.
For more information, please contact:
Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI)
Fairouz R. Nishanova Director, AKMICA
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
P.O. Box 2049 1211
Geneva 2 Switzerland
Theatre de la Ville
Presse & Documentation
16,Quai de Gesvres
75180 Paris Cedex04
Dust lifts from medieval grandeur
Richi Verma, TNN Oct 24, 2011, 06.45AM IST
It's a crumbling edifice of serenity at the entrance of the majestic Humayun's Tomb. But despite its intrinsic splendour, Isa Khan's tomb has always remained in the blind spot of visitors to this 16th century world heritage site.
Poor maintenance and lack of awareness about the tomb's significance in the city's architectural legacy contribute to the general lack of interest. But all of this will change after the launch of an intensive conservation programme.
In about six months from now, the tomb will don a new look with new pathways, lush green lawns and original ornamental patterns. Already, several layers of earth in the garden that surrounds the tomb have been removed and interiors scraped clean of dust and soot.
The project began on January this year as part of the Humayun's Tomb-Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Initiative. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture ( AKTC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) teamed up to implement it. The World Monuments Fund is also chipping in with funds.
Ensemble performing with Afghan trio at Chan Centre
By John Goodman, North Shore News October 28, 2011
- Kronos Quartet with Homayun Sakhi Trio, Chan Shun Concert Hall at UBC's Chan Centre, Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. Concert presented in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Quartet in talks to do more with Aga Khan foundation
North Shore News October 28, 2011
North Shore News: When did you meet Alim Qasimov?
David Harrington: I think it was about 1995 or '96 in London. His singing just blew me away. I've known of his work for a long time and it wasn't until several years ago that we were actually able to finally work together.
North Shore News: When you work with Qasimov is his daughter and ensemble part of the package?
David Harrington: Initially when we were working out the pieces he had two musicians with him. Fargana was not there. We did a performance in San Francisco and he sang all the parts - pretty amazing - but then when we did the world premiere in London his full ensemble and Fargana were there and in all of the concerts it's been them together. I think she's totally amazing as well. She's just a great artist.
North Shore News: Do you have any further projects planned with the Aga Khan foundation?
Please also see Related Material:
Delhi Urban Renewal Project
Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme
New Delhi, India, 30 October 2011 - His Highness the Aga Khan toured the Humayun’s Tomb - Sunder Nursery - Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project, in the heart of Delhi, India, to review progress on the project. Following the successfully restoration of the Humayun’s Tomb gardens in 2004, the Urban Renewal Project has expanded to encompass restoration and socioeconomic projects in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and the transformation of Sunder Nursery into a park for the people of Delhi.
His Highness the Aga Khan reviews plans for the Humayun’s Tomb - Sunder Nursery - Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project. - Photo: AKDN
His Highness the Aga Khan tours works on fountains and water channels in the Sunder Nursery. - Photo: AKDN
His Highness the Aga Khan reviews restoration work in the garden pavilion in Sunder Nursery. - Photo: AKDN
AKTC Launches Guidebook of Humayun’s Tomb for Children
Let's Explore Humayun’s TombDelhi, 22 November 20011 -- Humayun’s Tomb, one of India’s 26 World Heritage Sites, is visited by over 300,000 school children every year. But until recently, they did not have a child-friendly guide book to the site.
With the launch of “Let’s Explore Humayun’s Tomb”, that is set to change. The guidebook, authored by Dr Narayani Gupta and illustrated by Ms Anitha Balachandran on behalf of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, was printed with support by the Ford Foundation. Over 60,000 copies – 30,000 each in Hindi and English – have been published by the Archaeological Survey of India.
On the occasion of the book’s launch, India’s Minister of Culture, Kumari Selja, said, “I hope the guidebook will help involve children in the preservation effort from an early age and inspire many of them to become archaeologist, architects, and historians as we need many more people to become involved in protecting and presenting India’s built heritage or at least to be concerned about protecting what our ancestors built before us.”
AKTC has been working at the Humayun’s Tomb site for over a decade. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, AKTC decided to sponsor the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb Gardens - a four-part paradise garden (chahâr-bâgh) – in what was the first privately funded restoration of a World Heritage Site in India. Completed in March 2004 through the joint efforts of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the aegis of the National Culture Fund, the project restored the gardens, pathways, fountains and water channels surrounding Humayun’s Tomb according to the original plans of the builders.
Following the successfully restoration of the Humayun’s Tomb gardens, AKTC began work on a more ambitious project to improve the quality of life in surrounding areas. The Humayun’s Tomb - Sunder Nursery - Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project, which began in 2007, integrates conservation, socioeconomic development and urban and environmental development objectives in consultation with local communities and relevant stakeholders. The non-profit partnership includes the Archaeological Survey of India, the Central Public Works Department, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Since its inception, the project has attracted additional partners and received co-funding from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Ford Foundation, World Monuments Fund, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the Embassy of the United States, J.M. Kaplan Fund, amongst others.
For more information, please see the Historic Cities page and the independent Nizamuddin Renewal site.
Bringing children closer to heritage
On the occasion of Children's Day, the Archaeological Survey of India along with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture released a children's guidebook to the world heritage site Humayun's Tomb here on Monday. The book is intended to encourage children to take interest in the city's heritage.
The book was prepared by the Trust and published by ASI and is part of the Humayun's Tomb – Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Project, a not-for-profit public-private partnership initiative. Written in a story format along with illustrations, the book explains how the 450-year-old monument was built.
Authored by eminent historian Narayani Gupta and illustrated by Anitha Balachandran, it is the first site-specific guidebook in India.
“Humayun's Tomb is one of India's 26 World Heritage Sites and is visited by over 300,000 school children every year,” said Union Culture Minister Kumari Selja releasing the book at Humayun's Tomb at a ceremony attended by 500 children from nearly 15 schools of the Capital.
The book includes interesting facts about the World Heritage Site.
Priced at an affordable Rs.50, the book will be available at the tomb and other ASI centres in Hindi and English. Over 30,000 copies have been published so far. Said ASI Director-General Dr. Gautam Sengupta: “This book is the first in a series planned as part of celebration of ASI's 150 years of existence. The next one will be about a heritage site near Chennai.”
Nizamuddin Basti women got what they wanted, a gym
Shah Jehan is mostly occupied with household work and even though she looked forward for some personal time, she couldn’t. Besides, in the absence of a dedicated place for women in her area, the housewife from Nizamuddin Basti had no choice.
Most of the burqa-clad women like Shah Jehan who are shy to speak to others, their homes packed with people, and living in the narrow congested lanes of the Basti, the ambience hardly offered them any freedom.
However, six months ago, things changed when a women’s meeting was held in the Basti. Every single attendee demanded a ‘gymnasium’. And as a result, Avaam Fitness Centre came up, with exclusive timings for women. “I wouldn’t have gone far away. But with the gym nearby, I come regularly,” said Yasmin Qureshi, a crochet pattern artist. Like most other women, she comes covered in burqa, removes it while exercising and gets back into her conventional clothes again while stepping out.
Trainer Vimalesh (she goes by single name) starts the regime with stretching exercises. Then the women are guided according to their individual requirements, from aerobic or yoga exercises to cardio exercises on the machines. “I have to consider their background, their age and also their fitness before I chart-out exercise routine for them,” Vimalesh said.
The gym is run from a community centre and area councillor Farhad Suri was instrumental in setting up the gym and liaisoning with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
The civic body has signed a MoU with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) under the urban renewal project. Shveta Mathur, programme officer for AKTC’s urban implementation programme, said, “During the need assessment meetings with parents, children, women and all such stakeholders, this (gym) was one demand that had come up persistently from the women themselves. We are happy with the result today.”
Each woman’s record is kept properly and attendance marked even when the facility is free of charge.
Sualeha Farheen Siddiqui, manager of the gym, said: “Women here are very happy and the demand has been increasing. We cannot accommodate them all.” The gym has about 30-40 members each in three batches between 9.30am to 12.30 pm.
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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