Cambridge (Massachusetts), USA – The Silk Road Project will move its headquarters to Harvard University this summer, strengthening a partnership between the University and the world-renowned organization that promotes innovation and learning through the arts.
Harvard President Drew Faust and Yo-Yo Ma ’76, the project’s founder and artistic director, announced on April 13 that the relocation of the Silk Road Project from Rhode Island to Harvard-owned property at 175 North Harvard St. in Allston this July will enable new artistic and cultural opportunities at the University and in surrounding communities.
“We will act as a working laboratory, exploring intersections between the arts and academics, seeking passionate learning across disciplines and cultures,” said Yo-Yo Ma, the acclaimed cellist who founded the project in 1998. “I am thrilled that our partnership with Harvard has resulted in this renewal of our joint commitment to learning through the arts. I am looking forward to an exciting collaboration with Harvard faculty and students.”
The Silk Road Project is a nonprofit artistic, cultural, and educational organization with a vision of connecting the world’s neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences. The announcement marked the second time Harvard has welcomed a major not-for-profit organization to Allston in as many months, and it represented a milestone in Faust’s initiative to better integrate the arts into the cognitive life of the University.
“The Silk Road Project is a thriving example of how the arts enhance our understanding of the world,” said Faust. “This new, closer relationship between Harvard and the Silk Road Project will create educational opportunities that will benefit our local communities as well as our students.”
The new partnership builds on the success of a relationship between the Silk Road Project and Harvard, begun in 2005, that has already inspired multidisciplinary college courses as well as numerous workshops and performances involving members of the Project and Harvard undergraduate musicians. The new Project headquarters’ location — in space shared with the Harvard Allston Education Portal — provides opportunities for further cultural collaborations that will benefit the Harvard community and its neighbors.
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma will give annual public performances at Harvard, and Silk Road Ensemble musicians and artists will be available to take part in classroom work on campus, through performance, discussion, and collaborative projects.
The Silk Road Project’s move to Allston highlights Harvard’s ongoing stewardship of its properties and active engagement in Allston. In addition to today’s announcement, Harvard recently repurposed one of its properties to serve as a temporary community skating rink and announced that the world headquarters of Earthwatch, a leading scientific research and environmental education organization, was coming to the neighborhood.
“The Silk Road Project and Earthwatch are great examples of the kinds of vibrant organizations we can bring to Allston,” said Harvard Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp. “These are not-for-profit organizations with priorities that mesh nicely with Harvard’s educational mission, and bringing them into the neighborhood opens up a world of possibilities for collaborations that will benefit the community.”
Faust has raised the profile of the arts on the Harvard campus following the recommendations of a University-wide Task Force on the Arts that she named in 2007. The task force report encouraged new artistic programming and more opportunities for arts-making as a way of moving the arts already prevalent in the Harvard community closer to the curriculum. In the past year, 12 General Education and departmental courses and 15 freshman seminars integrated arts-making into their syllabi, and the number of venues for the practice, viewing, or performing of the arts online and on campus has increased.
“The interchange of music, art, culture, and ideas is the heart of our artistic programming and our educational work,” said Laura Freid, chief executive officer and executive director of the Silk Road Project. “Entering into this deeper relationship with Harvard and fully integrating into the Harvard campus will allow us to enrich our ongoing explorations of the Silk Road as a metaphor for cultural exchange and interdisciplinary collaboration.”
The Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of internationally renowned musicians, composers, arrangers, visual artists, and storytellers from more than 20 countries. Each ensemble member’s career illustrates a unique response to what is one of the artistic challenges of our times: nourishing global connections while maintaining the integrity of art rooted in authentic traditions.
Many of the musicians first came together under the artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma at a workshop at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts in 2000. Since then, in various configurations, ensemble artists have collaborated on a range of musical and multimedia projects, presenting innovative performances that explore the relationship between tradition and innovation in music from the East and West.
The Silk Road Ensemble has recorded five albums, Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (2002), Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (2005), New Impossibilities (2007), Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago (2008), and Off the Map (2009), and performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.