I recently had the privilege of attending a concert by the Silk Road Ensemble
which is comprised of over 60 musicians from 24 different countries. On Saturday night at Hill Auditorium, I heard Yo-Yo Ma, Cristina Pato, and thirteen other members give a whirlwind performance that took my breath away.
Using such varied instruments such as the cello, the gaita (a sort of Spanish bagpipe), the piano, tabla, and the human voice, they cooked up a multicultural mix of musical sounds and styles.
Every musician was very skilled as they effortlessly glided through different continental styles and modes. I couldn’t help but smile myself when I saw the happy, satisfied looks on their faces as they played each piece. One of the musicians commented on how the group arranges traditional orchestral pieces to suit the different instruments that find their way into the ensemble. He said it was like taking a classic recipe and improvising.
The wonderful collaboration reminded me of a dinner I had attended, where me and some of my Christian friends enjoyed some delicious Middle Eastern food with the Muslim students association. The dinner was a peaceful and enjoyable way that different cultures could connect.
In general, it made me think that there would be a lot less political conflict, if world leaders sat down and ate together and played music together more often. Who can honestly say they don’t like good music and good food, especially when mixed together?
Below: Yo-Yo Ma: the artistic director of the Silk Road Ensemble, and the man who inspired me to take up the cello in fifth grade and especially to master the Bach Suites.