Most come to Chautauqua for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. But for Silkroad Ensemble, it has been a weeklong creative tempest.
The musicians have spoken on the morning lecture platform, performed chamber music in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, instructed School of Music students in a private master class and the public in an open seminar. And they’re not done yet.
The Silkroad Ensemble will close its weeklong residency with a concert at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, in the Amphitheater, at which time the artists will be joined by the group’s founder, Yo-Yo Ma.
An internationally renowned cellist, Ma has recorded more than 100 albums, 18 of which won Grammy Awards. He has also achieved rare celebrity reaching far beyond classical music circles. Ma has performed for eight United States presidents, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2011 and is a United Nations ambassador for peace. Ma founded Silkroad Ensemble in 1998. Ma’s goal of cross-cultural collaboration has a personal connection: Born to Chinese parents in France, he emigrated to the United States at age 7.
“For me, and I think for all of us, all Americans, more or less are immigrants,” Ma said in an in interview last year with Forbes. “It’s important at a time when we’re trying to put a face to people so that they’re not statistics. That they’re not just a problem.”
Chautauqua’s Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts Deborah Sunya Moore explained Week Seven’s similar goal, saying it’s “not just a week on the arts.”
“It’s about conversation through the arts,” Moore said. “We hope that people leave inspired with greater understanding and greater empathy for other cultures, other people and other ways of thinking.”
This has been the most highly attended week of the season, according to Matt Ewalt, Institution chief of staff.
Ma was Silkroad’s artistic director until 2017, when he handed down the role to a team of three musicians. Ma continues to tour internationally, appearing solo and with orchestras, and will release new recordings of Bach’s six cello suites on Friday, Aug.17.
Tonight’s program will show off Silkroad’s globalized repertoire, featuring composers from the United States, Japan, Italy, India, Spain, France, Uzbekistan and Argentina. Some pieces were written by Silkroad artists who will perform tonight, such as “From the Gut” by violinist Shaw Pong Liu and “Tarang” by Sandeep Das, who also plays the tabla.
“There’s just going to be this really exciting panoply of musicians onstage,” Moore said. “It will be like no other concert that has happened this summer.”