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Arts Desk

Yo-Yo Ma's Odyssey: Redefining Home with the Silk Road Ensemble

The documentary film The Music of Strangers, and a companion CD, Sing Me Home—from Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble— both snared 2017 Grammy nominations, and a Grammy win for the CD for Best World Music Album. WRTI's Susan Lewis has the story on the Silk Road Ensemble, a group that seeks connections across cultures.
 

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Yo-Yo Ma talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about why he formed the Silk Road Ensemble and how music brings us together.

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Radio script

MUSIC: "Going Home," from Sing Me Home

Susan Lewis: The song "Going Home" uses a melody from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Silk Road’s rendition features an American banjo player, and a Chinese Sheng player, and lyrics in Mandarin and English. It’s part of a CD called Sing Me Home.

Yo-Yo Ma: We wanted to give a sense of what is home for everybody.

SL:  Yo-Yo Ma launched the Silk Road Ensemble in 2000 with musicians from different countries—sharing music to build relationships.

YYM: To live in one home on our planet, we actually have to be able to work together.

SL:  The CD is a companion to the documentary, The Music of Strangers, which highlights Ma and several Silk Road members, including a Syrian clarinetist, an Iranian who plays the kamancheh (a bowed string instrument), and a Spanish bagpiper.

YYM: Some come from regions experiencing conflict, others have deeply personal stories.

SL: Another member featured in the film is Wu Man, a Chinese pipa player, who has also written music for the group. Silk Road has commissioned more than 80 works from composers from 22 different countries.

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Zhang Ximin talks to pipa player Wu Man.

MUSIC: "Green" (Vincenet's Tune) by Wu Man

SL: Nourishing their own traditions, the artists create something new—fostering intimate, cross-cultural understanding.

YYM: I think this is one of the beauties of what music can do. It reaches deep into people’s core.

SL: Creating a sense of home in our hearts and souls.

MUSIC: "Heart and Soul"