‘Rhythm is the great connector:’ The Silkroad Ensemble will feature percussion pieces in Amphitheater

Members of the Silkroad Ensemble deliver their morning lecture performance to open the week Monday, Aug. 6, in the Amphitheater.

In every Silkroad Ensemble concert, the ensemble aims to provide the audience with an experience of traveling around the world, according to Jeffrey Beecher, co-artistic director of Silkroad.

“(A Silkroad Ensemble concert is) an introduction to a culture that (audience members) may have some familiarity with,” Beecher said. “And by building the trust of that knowledge, we can then take them to some place they may not have gone before.”

The Silkroad Ensemble will give a concert featuring its percussion section at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the Amphitheater.

“One of the questions we are asking this week … is ‘What is the global perspective like when you get people from all over the world and, in this case, into upstate New York, into a beautiful setting?’” Beecher said. “What’s the kind of conversation that is going on, and how do people actually learn how to do that if they don’t even come from the same background?”

And to answer these questions, Beecher said tonight’s concert will effectively demonstrate that rhythm is the great connector for people of different backgrounds.

“Everybody has a heartbeat. Everybody has a pulse,” Beecher said. “And really, every (kind of) music from all over the world has this sense of rhythm that gives us a pulse of nature to it.”

According to Beecher, tonight’s program will start with a marimba duet by composer Steve Reich. Before the intermission, there will be “an incredibly exciting piece” by Sandeep Das about the creation of the world — “perfect” for an outdoor setting like the Amphitheater.

There will be smaller pieces as well, like Michio Mamiya’s “Finnish Folk Songs,” which Yo-Yo Ma often plays on the cello, Beecher said. Japanese-Danish shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki will play the piece, with Cristina Pato accompanying on the piano. Beecher said this is the “sort of perfect Silkroad experience we are getting at.”

Beecher said he hopes the audience has a fantastic experience — it “is certainly a priority for (Silkroad Ensemble)” — but he also hopes attendees walk away with a sense of inspiration or recognition of the “turbulent times” in which they are living.

“Respecting the other, appreciating another’s culture, is an incredibly valuable experience. I think, taking some of the concert and passing that to the interaction everyone has the next day after our concert is the most powerful thing that would mean a lot to us as musicians,” Beecher said. “ … It’s the resonance of the concert that affects people after that. Maybe giving them some new perspective is a very powerful thing.”

According to Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts, artists in Silkroad Ensemble are ones who have a real social mission.

“That’s what we hope makes the week resonate so much, because it is about global conversation, not just about global arts,” Moore said.

Tags : AmphitheaterSilkroadThe Silkroad Ensemble

The author Flora Junhua Deng

Flora Junhua Deng is covering the School of Music for The Chautauquan Daily this summer. She is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying journalism and music. A native of China, Flora is not a huge fan of coffee but likes tea. She is a cat person but also loves dogs.