Yo-Yo Ma, and the Silk Road Ensemble Return to Japan

Yo-Yo Ma - Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Yo-Yo Ma – Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Providence (Rhode Island), USA –  The Silk Road Project, a not-for-profit arts and educational organization that connects musicians, composers, artists, and audiences around the world, will send the Silk Road Ensemble and Artistic Director
Yo-Yo Ma on tour to Japan from April 19 through April 27, 2008. The concert tour, presented by the Music Plant Co., Ltd., will include performances and educational activities in Matsumoto City, Nagoya, Tokyo, Osaka and Okayama. American Express is
the lead sponsor of the Silk Road Project in Japan.

Commenting on the upcoming tour, Yo-Yo Ma, acclaimed cellist and founder of the Silk Road Project, stated, "I am delighted to return to Japan with the talented musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble to present a wide-ranging program of music as part of the Silk Road Project’s ongoing exploration of cultural intersections. We are excited to once again share music from across the Silk Road with Japanese audiences, and we look forward to learning much from our journey." One of Mr. Ma’s inspirations in founding the Silk Road Project was an 8th-century Japanese biwa, a pear-shaped stringed instrument decorated with Persian and Central Asian designs, that he saw in the Nara National Museum’s Shosoin Collection.

The Ensemble will perform a varied repertoire that reflects the diversity of the artists’ backgrounds and the cultures of the countries linked by the historic Silk Road. Concert programs will include a series of works by Silk Road Project composers, including Ritmos Anchinos, or "Anchino Rhythms" that reflects American composer Gabriela Lena Frank’s Peruvian-Jewish-Chinese heritage; Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain by Angel Lam, a composer who grew up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, in memory of her grandmother; Paths of Parables, a work by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky from Uzebekistan based on Sufi parables; Silent City, a work commemorating a destroyed Kurdish city, composed by Ensemble member Kayhan Kalhor from Iran; and Sacred Cloud Music and Summer in the High Grassland by Chinese composer Zhao Jiping.

Works by Rabih Abou-Khalil from Lebanon and Sapo Perapaskero from Romania will complete the international program.

In addition to their performance commitments, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble will offer a musical presentation sponsored by American Express at The American School in Japan in Tokyo, introducing students to the music of the Silk Road in an interactive setting. The tour will conclude with two special screenings of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Lotte Reiniger’s classic animated film based on the tales of The Arabian Nights, with a live soundtrack created and performed by the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma.

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma previously toured to Japan in 2001 and 2005, when they gave a series of nine concerts at the Aichi World Expo 2005 in Nagoya in July 2005. Their performances of original compositions were featured in the NHK’s
ten-part "Silk Road 2005" television series, which aired in Japan for one year beginning in January 2005. The Ensemble also visited Japan in October 2005 as artists-in-residence at the Nara National Museum and for a performance at the gala
opening of the Kyushu National Museum.

Concert Tour

  • April 19, 2008 5 p.m. Matsumoto Bunka Kaikan Hall, Matsumoto City
  • April 20, 2008 5 p.m. Aichi Prefectural Arts Theater (Grand Hall), Nagoya
  • April 21, 2008 7 p.m. Suntory Hall, Tokyo
  • April 23, 2008 7 p.m. Suntory Hall, Tokyo
  • April 24, 2008 7 p.m. The Symphony Hall, Osaka
  • April 25, 2008 7 p.m. Okayama Symphony Hall, Okayama City
  • April 27, 2008 1 & 3 p.m. Suntory Hall, Tokyo