The Silk Road Project Travels to Switzerland in the Summer of 2007

Providence (Rhode Island), USA – The Silk Road Project, a not-for-profit arts and educational organization inspired by the interchange of culture and ideas along the historic Silk Road trade route, will visit Switzerland for the first time this summer with performances by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at the renowned Lucerne Festival and for a Silk Road Ensemble residency at Museum Rietberg in Zurich.
 “We are honored to perform at the Lucerne Festival, one of the world’s preeminent festivals, particularly in the context of this year’s theme of investigating origins,” states Yo-Yo Ma, acclaimed cellist and founder and artistic director of the Silk Road Project. “As part of the Silk Road Project’s ongoing exploration of cultural intersections, the Ensemble is excited to extend its stay in Switzerland to connect with new audiences during an intensive residency in Zurich. We anticipate that Museum Rietberg’s incredible collection of Asian art will provide the foundation for valuable new musical and artistic encounters.”The Silk Road Ensemble will perform with Yo-Yo Ma at the acclaimed Lucerne Festival under the 2007 festival theme of ‘Origins’. The concerts on August 23 and 25 will feature music rooted in the traditions of countries along the historic Silk Road; the programs will also include a series of newly commissioned works, many of which combine non-Western and Western instruments and explore some of today’s most exciting musical crossroads.

Collaborating with the curators and education staff at Museum Rietberg, the Silk Road Ensemble will animate the Museum’s galleries with performances, multimedia presentations, storytelling, school workshops and interactive tours from August 28 to September 2.


During the residency, the Ensemble will perform works inspired by the Museum’s internationally renowned collection of Asian art and will encourage visitors to explore the underlying connections between the art and music. An extended evening of programming on September 1 promises to be one of the highlights of the residency in celebration of the annual Lange Nacht der Museen (the museums’ long night), for which museums in Zurich feature special programs during extended overnight hours.


August 23, 2007, at 7:30 PM
Concert Hall, Lucerne Culture and Congress Center
The Silk Road Ensemble
Yo-Yo Ma, Artistic Director

Concert Program

AHMET ADNAN SAYGUN Partita, Op. 31 (Allegretto)
KOMITAS VARTABED Armenian Folk Songs:
(coll/arr. S. Aslamazyan) Vagharshabadi Dance
Harvest Song
Festive Song
(arr. Osvaldo Golijov/Ljova)
Traditional Persian classical music
KAYHAN KALHOR Blue as the Turquoise Night of Neyshabur
(arr. Kalhor/Prutsman)

August 25, 2007, at 10:00 PM
Concert Hall, Lucerne Culture and Congress Center

The Silk Road Ensemble
Yo-Yo Ma, Artistic Director
Concert Program
ANGEL LAM Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain

Silk Road Ensemble Concerts

August 28, 2007, 7:30 PM: Opening concert with introductory remarks by Yo-Yo Ma
August 29, 2007, 2:30 PM: Percussion mini-concert
August 29, 2007, 7:30 PM: Open-air mini-concert
August 30, 2007, 7:30 PM: Blue and White, multimedia presentation with live music by the Ensemble
August 31, 2007, 9:00 PM: The Adventures of Prince Achmed, film with live music by the Ensemble
September 1, 2007, 10:00 PM: Mini-concert
September 2, 2007, 3:00 PM: Family concert

Solo, small-group and full Ensemble performances of various lengths draw from musical traditions around the world, opening with a concert introduced by Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma and closing with a lively and informal family concert familiarizing audiences of all ages with the instruments and repertoire of the Silk Road Ensemble.

Tours and Gallery Programs

Daily, 12:15-4:30 PM

Tours include Story Tours, in which selected items from Museum Rietberg’s collection are presented through the eyes of Silk Road Ensemble member and master storyteller Ben Haggarty (presented in English), and Walking Music Tours Across China, guided tours of the Chinese galleries highlighting works with curator descriptions, music and musicians’ stories.

Gallery programs include Museum Rietberg: A Musical Perspective, a string quartet mini-concert of music from many of the cultures represented by Musum Rietberg’s collections; Angkor Wat(er), a Force of Creation and Destruction, a discussion and musical exploration of the importance of water to Khmer culture; Indigo: “The colour of heaven clothes my back” – The Story of a Silk Road Dye, an investigation of indigo’s journey from India through Asia and Africa before becoming ubiquitous as the color of blue jeans, including storytelling (presented in English) based on a Yoruba tale and a Silk Road Ensemble performance of a melody from Mali; The Musical Words of Persia, in which curators and musicians highlight the development of text, poetry and music in Persia in the Persian calligraphy room exhibit; Art, Music and Poetry of Japan; and Chinese Scholar, a musical exploration of the tenets of the ideal Chinese scholar and the contemplation of nature.

The Amorous Adventures of Krishna

August 28, 29, 30 & 31, 2007, 6:00 PM

In The Amorous Adventures of Krishna, storytelling sessions for adults, members of the audience become privileged Maharajahs as they admire fine miniatures depicting the youthful adventures of Krishna amongst the cowherd girls. Inspired by the magnificent collection of Indian miniatures in Park-Villa Rieter, Silk Road Ensemble storyteller Ben Haggarty leads a charming exploration of metaphorical stories of seduction and passion (presented in English, for adults.)

Die Lange Nacht Events
September 1, 7:00 PM – September 2, 2:00 AM

As part of the annual Lange Nacht der Museen, the Silk Road Ensemble presents special performances and activities during Museum Rietberg’s late-night programming. In addition to gallery programs, special performances will include The Afterlife: Sounding the Nao Bell at midnight, a new musical work created to evoke the ancient summoning of ancestral spirits from Shang-dynasty bronze bells, and 108 at 1:08, which will take place at 1:08 AM; composed and performed by Silk Road Ensemble member Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi, the piece explores the significance of the number 108 in Hinduism, Taoism and Buddism by layering sometimes meditative, sometimes expressive improvisation on the end-blown flute over a computer’s drone that sounds once every 20 seconds (108 times to signify overcoming the 108 human defilements in Japanese Buddhism.)

Special Presentations

Blue and White: A Multimedia Presentation
August 30, 2007, 7:30 PM
Multimedia performance with live music by the Silk Road Ensemble

The Silk Road Ensemble draws on the rich legacy of blue-and-white porcelain and its remarkable journey around the globe for this new multimedia work. Developed in part through a collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, Blue and White incorporates music, narration, video and animation to explore how travel and trade have transformed blue-and-white ceramics from a decorative art form in ninth-century Basra to a ubiquitous commodity in the present day, illustrating how both music and art have crossed many borders and, through imitation and reinterpretation, have become claimed by many cultures as their own.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed
August 31, 2007, 9:00 PM
Animated film with live music by the Silk Road Ensemble

One of the great classics of animation, Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 silent film based on the tales of The Arabian Nights portrays Prince Achmed’s adventures through intricately cut paper images. The first full-length animated feature film ever made, The Adventures of Prince Achmed has been called “a masterpiece” and a “rapturous animated kaleidoscope.” The film will be screened with a new score composed and performed live by the Silk Road Ensemble. Strings, percussion and wind instruments representing musical traditions of the East and the West will bring to life this timeless work of art.

About the Silk Road Project

Inspired by the interchange of culture, ideas and innovations along the historic trade route, the Silk Road Project is a not-for-profit arts and educational organization that connects musicians, composers, artists and audiences from Asia to Europe to the Americas. Founded in 1998 by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who serves as its artistic director, and led by Laura Freid, executive director and CEO, the Silk Road Project is a catalyst for promoting innovation and learning through cross-cultural and interdisciplinary partnerships. The Silk Road Project presents performances by the Silk Road Ensemble; commissions interdisciplinary works of music, visual art, and storytelling; and develops educational materials and programming.

Ford Motor Company is Global Corporate Partner to the Silk Road Project as part of its longstanding tradition of arts education support.

The Silk Road Project is grateful to Mikimoto for sponsorship of its International Museum Residency Program. Silk Road Project Cultural Exchange Initiative activities are assisted financially by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Silk Road Project is affiliated with Harvard University and Rhode Island School of Design, where the Ensemble collaborates with students and faculty as artists in residence.

About Yo-Yo Ma

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the founder and artistic director of the Silk Road Project. His many-faceted career is a testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences. One of his goals is to explore music as a means of communication and as a vehicle for the migration of ideas across cultures. Mr. Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist, and his discography of over 75 albums (including more than 15 Grammy winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. Yo-Yo Ma was born to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon after came with his family to New York, where he enrolled in the Juilliard School. He graduated from Harvard University in 1976.

About the Silk Road Ensemble
The Silk Road Ensemble is a select group of performers and composers drawn from a wide range of cultural and international musical heritages. The Ensemble presents innovative and energetic performances that explore traditional and contemporary music from their diverse backgrounds, provide a creative platform for their own artistic growth and engage audiences in further learning about the Silk Road.

About Lucerne Festival in Summer

August 10 – September 16, 2007

Founded by Arturo Toscanini in 1938, the Lucerne Festival has grown to become an exhilarating international showcase for the world’s leading orchestras and concert artists and a prestige festival for contemporary music. Housed in the spectacular Jean Nouvel concert hall in exquisite medieval surroundings, it mounts three festivals annually: Lucerne Festival at Easter, in Summer, and at the Piano. Since 2003 the Festival has featured its own Lucerne Festival Orchestra, established and conducted by Claudio Abbado. It also sponsors a two-week Academy under the aegis of Pierre Boulez, attracting outstanding young musicians from all over the world to study and perform contemporary music. For further information visit

About Museum Rietberg

The Museum Rietberg in Zurich is the only art museum for non-European cultures in Switzerland, exhibiting an internationally renowned collection of art from Asia, Africa and Ancient America. The Museum’s collection focuses on a fascinating variety of artistic expression, raising interest and understanding of foreign cultures, views and religions. The core of the Museum’s collection dates back to a generous donation of Baron Eduard von der Heydt. Through long-standing contact with patrons, collectors, foundations and corporate sponsors, the Museum Rietberg has been able to continually expand. Originally housed in the Villa Wesendonck (a place of great artistic and personal significance for Richard Wagner), the Museum Rietberg unveiled in February 2007 a striking new glass pavilion with new gallery space.