Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble

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I know that at every edition of the International George Enescu Festival we have among the guests also surprise bands. Something that would eventually come out of the conservative classicism but also to keep their deserved place in the Concert Halls. Two years ago we had jazz on the scene of the Athenaeum and not to forget the memorable concerts of Jordi Savall şi Hesperion XXI of which we will talk in a future article.
This year’s surprises did not stopped, on the contrary, they had continued. I even remember when I first put my hand on the festivals program, and I wondered, two years ago came Savall, now who is going to join us?
To my shame I have not yet heard until now of Yo-Yo Ma or The Silk Road Ensemble project, but when I saw in the program that one of the instrumentalists is playing the tabla I thought it was something that should not be missed. I for one am already obsessed with authentic folk percussion instruments. For as the Conservatoire have taught me that rhythm is not music, listening to an Asian or African percussion instrument I find that statement somewhat false. You can create music only helped by different rhythms of percussion instruments.

I don’t think that The Silk Road Ensemble

needs a lot of presentation. That name should say it all (Silk Road Ensemble). We can search a bit on Google or Wikipedia to recall the route that was so important and see what musical instruments we can find on this path. And this is what Yo-Yo Ma did by assembling several instruments and music from different cultures. It blends beautifully and is inspired by traditional cultures encountered on this route.

, a cello player, winner of several Grammy Awards, was born in 1955 in Paris. We learn from his website that he start playing the cello since the age of four from his father who was in fact a teacher. Then at the Juilliard School (from where most of all successful artists came out) had as teacher Leonard Rose. In addition to a multitude of awards, in 2006 he receives the title of “Messenger of Peace” offered by Kofi Annan, title that has been extended also in 2007.

Sandeep Das
introducing the tabla instrument in a small demonstration. More than sure that at some point in my life I have to get myself one of those. It’s an indian folk percussion instrument used also in religious music and in secular music. A quick example found on YouTube can be heard below, but anyway, when you will recognize it you’ll realize how many times has been heard in the Buddha Bar music collections. And some of you will say: Well dude, now you’re tellin’ me that they play Buddha Bar at this Enescu Festival?

Anyway, we can found in Asia many musical instruments (especially percussion instruments) extremely interesting and innovating. We have to take in consideration that these instruments were made thousands of years ago and still some of them offer an unprecedented harmonic sound unheard on the present day instruments. All that mean Tabla, Darbuka or even Frame Drums were heard in the Silk Road Ensemble

with his own Kamancheh listening to Yo-Yo Ma in a moment of solo.

in duet with Joseph Gramley in the middle of a rhythm war.

, Yo-Yo Ma and Jonathan Gandelsman keeping up with the storm on the stage.

in duet with Kayhan Kalhor.

, Yo-Yo Ma and Kayhan Kalhor, all focused on their parts in order to sound as one.

and Kayhan Kalhor in a virtuosity dialogue.

It was a new experience and I’m glad I choosed to go to this concert. I don’t think that I have lost something of a big importance at the Palace Hall that evening or in any other place. Those who missed this unique show have failed the opportunity in listening this type of music heard only through the acts of these ensembles. This type of music is not really promoted , but I am sure that if you would hear it once, you would hear it again and again. And everything starts a click away because on their web site you can hear their music. So click


We hope to see more and more of these acts on the Enescu Festival so that we can experience new sounds and music. Something that I’m trying to do this also on this blog.

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