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From Afghanistan to Azerbaijan -- via San Francisco: Three New Central Asian Music CD/DVDs from Smithsonian Folkways and the Aga Khan Music Initiative out March 30

United States
English
“Rainbow” (Kronos Quartet with Alim Qasimov Ensemble and Homayun Sakhi), “In the Footsteps of Babur” (Mughal traditions) and “In the Shrine of the Heart” (urban song traditions of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Qoqand, and Khiva)

Kronos Quartet, Homayun Sakhi (Afghanistan) and Alim Qasimov Ensemble (Azerbaijan) to perform at Carnegie Hall on March 14th.

Alim Qasimov Ensemble to perform at Asia Society/NYC on March 12th.

February 12, 2010 — On March 30th, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release the latest installment, Vols. 7–9, of the unprecedented and comprehensive “Music of Central Asia” series.

These sets of CD-DVDs, “In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular Classics from Bukhara and Beyond” (Vol. 7), “Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim and Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi” (Vol. 8) and “In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals” (Vol. 9), reflect the profound musical diversity of Central Asia.

“Music of Central of Asia” is a co-production of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Each disc features full-color booklets with extensive liner notes, an instrument glossary and a DVD with a documentary film about the music and performers.

“In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular Classics from Bukhara and Beyond” (Vol. 7)

Generations of Uzbek and Tajik singer-songwriters bequeathed a remarkable legacy of lyrical ballads, devotional songs and instrumental pieces to the gifted master-musicians who perform on “In the Shrine of the Heart” (Vol. 7). Rooted in the sophisticated urban song traditions of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Qoqand, and Khiva, these popular classics come alive in superbly recorded new performances. The lyrics are drawn from a vast corpus of classical poetry and other forms of verse written in Persian and a variety of Turkic languages and dialects between the 10th and 20th centuries, and are set to new melodies.

“Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim and Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi” (Vol. 8)

“Rainbow” (Vol. 8) consists of two bold collaborations with the Kronos Quartet, America’s premier new-music quartet, with each reaching across continents and cultures, and across musical categories and conventions. The first is the Kronos Quartet’s collaboration with renowned rubab player Homayun Sakhi on “Rainbow,” his composition for rubab, string quartet, and percussion. Not a composer who notates his compositions, Sakhi composed and recorded the rubab part on his own instrument, and realized the string quartet sounds on a Casio synthesizer. These recordings were given to long time Kronos Quartet collaborator and award-winning concert pianist, composer, arranger and musical festival founder Stephen Prutsman, who transcribed the piece and wrote it out in Western music notation. Sakhi and the Kronos Quartet recorded the composition at Skywalker Ranch, outside San Francisco.

The other collaboration is with the Alim Qasimov Ensemble on five Azerbaijani popular song arrangements. With the help of performer-composer-arranger Jacob Garchik, Kronos and the Qasimov ensemble were able to take Azerbaijan arrangement’s that Qasimov had turned into quasi-improvisations, and turn them back into arrangements. These songs were enthusiastically received during a world premiere at London’s Barbican Centre during Ramadan Nights, and recorded the day after the concert.

On March 14th the Kronos Quartet will perform at Carnegie Hall with Qasimov and Sakhi in the Quartet’s Music Without Borders showcase in support of “Rainbow.”

“In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals” (Vol. 9)

On “In the Footsteps of Babur” (Vol. 9) five brilliant instrumentalists illuminate the musical legacy of the Mughal Empire, founded five centuries ago by Emperor Babur. The album is an exploration of the common ground of musical styles, sensibilities and instruments from Central Asia, Afghanistan and North India. The CD features raga, or classical Indian music, played on Afghan rubab, tabla and santur. as well as popular and folk music genres. The musicians, the individual tracks and the album as a whole reflect the artistic synthesis characteristic of both the Mughal Empire and today’s globalized world.

Smithsonian Folkways inaugurated the groundbreaking “Music of Central Asia” series in 2006 with Volumes 1–3 and followed with Volumes 4–6 in 2007. The ongoing partnership between Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia seeks to revitalize and assure the onward transmission of musical traditions in regions where they are endangered, and to cultivate the creative processes that lead to artistic innovation and evolution. The ‘Music of Central Asia’ series is co-produced and curated by Dr. Theodore Levin, an ethnomusicologist on the faculty of Dartmouth College, and Fairouz R. Nishanova, Director of the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

Music of Central Asia (list of titles to date):

• Vol. 1: Tengir-Too: Mountain Music from Kyrgyzstan, 2006.
• Vol. 2: Invisible Face of the Beloved: Classical Music of the Tajiks and Uzbeks, 2006. (2006 GRAMMY Nominee).
• Vol. 3: Homayun Sakhi: The Art of the Afghan Rubab, 2006.
• Vol. 4: Bardic Divas: Women’s Voices in Central Asia, 2007.
• Vol. 5: The Badakhshan Ensemble: Song and Dance from the Pamir Mountains, 2007.
• Vol. 6: Alim and Fargana Qasimov: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan, 2007.
• Vol. 7: In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular Classics from Bukhara and Beyond, 2010.
• Vol. 8: Rainbow: Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi, 2010.
• Vol. 9: In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals, 2010.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings retail distribution is through ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) at 800.239.3232. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings releases are available through record and book outlets. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as the original Folkways, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Monitor, Paredon, Collector and Fast Folk collections, are available via mail order at 1.888.FOLKWAYS or 800.410.9815 and via the Internet.
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