The first world premiere of the Hop’s spring term takes place on Thursday, April 5, when the Silk Road Ensemble performs with its illustrious co-founder, cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In its 20 years of existence, the ensemble’s sublimely virtuosic members have created an extraordinary flow of gorgeous, impassioned music seamlessly joining disparate musical traditions, new and ancient. Much of that music has been heard at the Hop, thanks to musicologist and Dartmouth music professor Theodore Levin, who helped create the ensemble two decades ago.
The performance includes the premiere of a work by Jia Daqun, one of China’s leading classical composers, inspired by Chinese calligraphy and featuring 16-time Grammy winner Ma.
While the April 5 performance has long been sold out, there are two other chances to get your Silk Road fix at the Hop that week: a showing of the 2015 documentary on the project, The Music of Strangers, on Monday, April 2, 7:30 pm, in Loew Auditorium, followed by a discussion involving Silk Road members; and Ma also will be giving a free public talk on Wednesday, April 4, 4 pm, in the Hop’s Spauding Auditorium, as a fellow of the Montgomery Fellows Program, titled “Culture, Understanding and Survival.”
The Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of extraordinary musicians from Central and East Asia and the West who together create new music with traditional roots, creating a vision of a world of greater human harmony. The Wall Street Journal called the group “a joyous revelation … an emblem of what people can do in these fractious times when they live in concert with one another.”
The April 5 performance features musicians who have delighted Hop audiences before: including violist Nicholas Cords and violinist Colin Jacobsenof the quartet Brooklyn Rider; Sandeep Das, originally from India, on tabla; Kayhan Kalhor, originally from Iran, on kemancheh; Dartmouth digital music graduate program alum Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi; and Wu Man, originally from China, on pipa.
Silk Road Ensemble performs Kahlor’s “Blue as the Turquoise Night of Neyshabur,” one of the selections on the Hop program, in 2010.
Jia Daqun, a distinguished Chinese composer and music theorist, enjoys special government allowances of the State Council of China. He has composed numerous works in various musical styles along with many articles and books on composition and music analysis. His String Quartet (1988) won the 12th IRINO Prize in Japan (1991) and other compositions, such as Rondo, for Clarinet and Piano (1984), The Dragon and Phoenix Totem, for Pipa and Orchestra (1985), Symphony in Two Movements (1986–87) and Symphonic Prelude – Bashu Capriccio (1996) have been awarded prizes in major Chinese national composition competitions. His work Flavor of Bashu, for two violins, piano and percussion (1995) was named “Chinese Classic Musical Composition of the Twentieth Century” by the Chinese government. Jia is currently a composition professor and supervisor of doctoral students at Shanghai Conservatory of Music, a vice chairman of the theory council of Chinese Musicians Association, administrative vice chairman of Music Analytics of CMA and member of the Academic Council of the Institute of Musicology at CCOM.
Since the age of thirteen and for eight years thereafter, Jia also studied painting, and thus he is noted for connecting to the visual arts such musical concepts as lines, harmony, timbre and structures. His works have been played in many cities and at musical festivals including the Yokohama Asian Music Festival, Berlin Music Festival, Hong Kong International Contemporary Music Festival, and have been received to great public and critical acclaim.