For many years, I have felt that traditional music played such a critical role in the cultures of Central Asia that it deserved attention and assistance. The need became all the more apparent after the countries of the region achieved independence and began the process of redefining themselves. For the new countries of Central Asia, the inherent pluralism of their societies can be an asset rather than a liability.

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Following critically acclaimed concerts in North America and Europe, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble brought their unique fusion of ancient Silk Road traditions and western classical music to the heart of the Silk Road: in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The concerts were accompanied by master classes — attended by local musicians and students — at which there was a chance to share musical traditions and explore new avenues of artistic expression.

The concerts and master classes are part of efforts by the Aga Khan Music Initiative and the Silk Road Project, Inc. to promote and preserve the music of the region. In Central Asia, music of great antiquity is still passed — by oral transmission — from a handful of masters to small groups of students. [The Aga Khan remarked:]

For many years, I have felt that traditional music played such a critical role in the cultures of Central Asia that it deserved attention and assistance. The need became all the more apparent after the countries of the region achieved independence and began the process of redefining themselves. For the new countries of Central Asia, the inherent pluralism of their societies can be an asset rather than a liability.

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