by Mike Telin
When cellist Yo-Yo Ma decided in 1998 to launch a collaborative enterprise to promote artistic exchanges between cultures, he named it The Silk Road Project after the 4,000-some miles of ancient trade routes that for two millennia linked parts of Asia with Europe and encouraged the trading of art, knowledge, philosophy and religion — as well as silk and other commercial goods.
Two years later, The Silk Road Project spawned The Silk Road Ensemble, a collective of some sixty performers and composers from more than twenty countries. Fifteen musicians from eight of those countries, including Yo-Yo Ma, are currently on tour to six cities in the United States, and will perform on the Tuesday Musical Association Series at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Thursday, March 14 at 7:30 pm. We spoke with three of them, pipa (Chinese lute) player Yang Wei, violinist Johnny Gandelsman and gaita (Galician bagpipes) player Christina Pato (who will also play piano) to ask how they first became involved in the Silk Road Ensemble and to glean some of their insights into what makes it tick. [Read more…]