Azerbaijan International

Summer 2006 (14.2)
Page 14

Welcome to Baku: Yo-Yo Ma
Silk Road Ensemble with Alim Gasimov and Fargana

by Aida Huseinova

Click photos to enlarge

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma delighted Azerbaijani music lovers in Baku on May 16-20, 2006. He was accompanied by the Silk Road Ensemble, a group that he founded in 1998 and of which he is Artistic Director.

Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 in France to Chinese parents. He lives in the United States. "Every time I open a newspaper, I am reminded that we live in a world where we can no longer afford not to know our neighbors. The Silk Road Project is a musical way to get to know our neighbors," says Ma.

In addition to performing a major concert at Azerbaijan State Philharmonic, the Ensemble offered Master Classes and Workshops at Bulbul Music School, Baku National Conservatory, and Baku Music Academy.

Mugham soloists Alim Gasimov and his daughter Fargana were featured at the music events and were accompanied by Ensemble, which includes several Azerbaijani musicians: Rafael Asfarov (balaban, wind), Rauf Islamov (kamancha, strings), Ali Asgar Mammadov (tar, strings) and Natig Shirinov (nagara, percussion).

Azerbaijani composer Frangiz Ali-Zadeh, who resides in Germany, also joined the week of music festivities. Her works have been commissioned by the Silk Road Ensemble and were performed in Baku.

Ma has recorded nearly 50 albums and won 14 Grammy Awards. This spring he was awarded the 2006 Dan David Prize (Tel Aviv) of $1 million prize for the Silk Road Project "for venturing beyond the traditional realms of musicianship, transforming himself, through his intellect as well as his artistry, into an educator and cultural explorer. The Silk Road Project has opened up the study of the ebb and flow of ideas and traditions among different cultures along the Silk Road."

Other members of the Ensemble come from the United States, France, China, India, Iran, Armenia, Korea, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia. Visit:

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy sponsored Ma's visit to Baku. The Ford Motor Company is a Global Corporate Partner to the Silk Road Project. The Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Old Mill Cafe, Hyatt Hotels Baku, Mike Hoomani, Vahid Kooros, and Oxus Energy also provided support for the Baku program.

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