Silk Road Ensemble Discovers Route to Santa Clara
Story and photos by Diane Andrews
Seven musicians from the eclectic Silk Road Ensemble, formed by world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 2000, traveled to Santa Clara University (SCU) for the New Music Festival Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. Their week of music classes, collaboration, and concerts culminated Feb. 3 in the free public concert "Exploring Home."
Perhaps the biggest concert surprise for those not familiar with the Silk Road Ensemble was the atypical pairing of instruments in the opening piece. First came a background buzz, as if the sound equipment were malfunctioning. Next came the sound of Kojiro Umezaki's shakuhachi, a Japanese flute.
Then the buzz got louder, becoming the distinctive drone of a Galician bagpipe as Cristina Pato piped her way onto the stage, joining Umezaki for an energetic east meets west interplay bridging their cultures.
The bagpipe is a traditional instrument not only of Scotland but of Galacia, the area of northwestern Spain where Pato was born. The shakuhachi is an end-blown, bamboo flute.
"And that was only the beginning of the concert, not the end," said Ensemble violist Nicholas Cords, from the U.S., once the applause finally died down.
The Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of musicians–composers and performers–from all over the world who come together to create innovative music in the hope of promoting cross-cultural understanding. The ensemble was invited to SCU as part of the 2016 - 2017 Frank Sinatra Artists-in-Residence program.
The opening excitement of the almost 90-minute concert never let up as the other Ensemble musicians added their instruments to the musical caravan along the Silk Road...
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