International Focus: Silkroad


This month’s international focus piece is on Silkroad founded by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998 ~!

Inspired by the ancient Silk Road which successfully bridged nations with its network of trade routes, Yo-Yo Ma recognised it as a “model for cultural collaboration – for the exchange of ideas, tradition, and innovation across borders” and decided to bring musicians from various nations of Silk Road together.

Today, Silkroad continues to impact communities and bring music to more through its social impact initiatives, educational partnerships, creation of new music and its Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble.

Made up of freelance musicians, teachers, producers, arts leaders, and advocates from all around the world, the Silkroad Ensemble is the core of Silkroad and works to promote cross-cultural collaboration through tour performances in a myriad of settings.  The Ensemble welcomed its very own Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2016 with Sing Me Home, and the album was recorded with the documentary feature The Music of Strangers, directed by Oscar-winner Morgan Neville.

Silkroad boasts a few flagship programs:

Arts and Passion-Driven Learning Institute (APL)
Global Musician Workshop (GMW)
Silkroad Seeds

all of which can be found on their website ~!

Silkroad’s APL Institute delivers a three-day immersive experience where participants can look forward to workshops with fellow educators, performances, plenaries and even the appearance of Yo-Yo Ma himself.  Presented in partnership with Harvard Graduate School of Education, the program aims to encourage reflection on themes such as curiosity, cultural competency, community, inspiration and visibility. 

In contrast, the GMW is a week-long program led by musicians from the Silkroad Ensemble and other faculty artists.  Open to all musicians and educators ages 18 and above, the GMW teaches tunes from all over the world, with topic-based elective classes, play-along jam sessions, panel discussions and a performance festival featuring both faculty and participants.

> this August 8 to 14, the GMW will be held virtually with a flat fee of $250 per person, or $350 per household.  If you are interested in joining this transformative experience, do act soon as registration ends on 30 June 2021 !

Beyond the APL and GMW, Silkroad also works to empower artists and their individual works through Silkroad Seeds, an initiative that supports artistic projects aimed at bettering communities, expanding beyond boundaries and encouraging social change.  With support ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 ~ Silkroad Seeds 2020 commissioned artists such as Bill Barclay, Layale Chaker and Shawn Conley in their individual musical projects, allowing them to be able to bring their music to the less fortunate around them. 

Finally, learning resources can be readily found on the Silkroad website.  From conversations with Yo-Yo Ma himself, to a study guide for Vojo, a piece by Cristina Pato and Kojiro Umezaki, and a The Music of Strangers curriculum guide for educators, members of the public can access these resources anytime and anywhere ~!

This May, if you are home and keeping distance from physical gatherings (with the recent spike in community cases in Singapore !), do drop by the Silkroad website to explore more ~!

Beyond the programs, performances of the Silkroad Ensemble can also be found and it is an eye and ear-opening experience, witnessing how vastly different instruments from various parts of the world can come together to bring about beautiful music (:  

We will be back very soon with our next Spotlight post, so do keep a lookout and stay well ~!