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Fwd: Smithsonian Folklife Festival "The SIlk Road" for those interested in the ME

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  • Tatsushu .
    Okay, this is strange. I learned about this from friends in OERTHA (that s Alaska, for those of you who don t know). Sounds cool, I ll have to find out more.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2002
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      Okay, this is strange. I learned about this from friends in OERTHA (that's
      Alaska, for those of you who don't know). Sounds cool, I'll have to find
      out more.

      -Ii

      >To view the entire article, go to
      > >
      > >http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49130-2002Apr1.html
      > >
      > > >
      > > >The Silk Road Comes to Town
      > > >
      > > >By Jacqueline Trescott
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >For the first time in its 36 years, the Smithsonian
      > > Folklife
      > > >Festival will be dedicated to a single subject: an
      > > exploration
      > > >of the ancient Silk Road, the trade route that
      > > linked Asia and
      > > >Europe, and its influence of its cultures on
      > > American life
      > > >today.
      > > >
      > > >From June 26 to 30 and July 3 to 7, visitors to the
      > > National
      > > >Mall can tour a range of exhibits focused on the
      > > cultures that
      > > >flourished along the road from the time of
      > > Alexander the Great
      > > >until the 14th century A.D. At the Capitol end of
      > > the Mall will
      > > >be a pavilion built to look like the Nara Gate of
      > > Japan, and at
      > > >the Washington Monument end will be a likeness of
      > > the Venice
      > > >Piazza.
      > > >
      > > >The annual Smithsonian festival, which last year
      > > drew 1 million
      > > >visitors, generally focuses on two states as well
      > > as a
      > > >particular craft -- woodworking, pottery or the
      > > like. But this
      > > >year it will break tradition with the help of a
      > > very
      > > >distinguished consultant, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
      > > >
      > > >In 1998 Ma organized the Silk Road Project, a
      > > collaboration of
      > > >artists who are telling the vast region's story
      > > through
      > > >concerts and cultural festivals.
      > > >
      > > >"What this festival can do is create an experience
      > > that is
      > > >personal," Ma said. Familiarity with the Silk Road
      > > is not
      > > >necessary. "You can come with a lot or a little,
      > > but the
      > > >question is: What do you leave with?"
      > > >
      > > >Ma, along with his Smithsonian partners and various
      > > curators,
      > > >does not want the festival to become an instant
      > > classroom.
      > > >
      > > >"It's not: Do you know the capital of Kazakhstan
      > > and can you
      > > >spell Kazakhstan? I want you to know what it feels
      > > like to live
      > > >someplace else. It's getting to know a world, the
      > > humanity of
      > > >it all. People have always been smart and creative.
      > > Also we
      > > >want to capture that sense of adventure, and what
      > > has motivated
      > > >that sense of adventure," Ma said.
      > > >
      > > >The details of the Folklife Festival, called "The
      > > Silk Road:
      > > >Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust," and the
      > > unusual
      > > >approaches will be announced at a news conference
      > > today.
      > > >
      > > >The event has attracted three principal sponsors,
      > > which are
      > > >also underwriting Ma's project: the Aga Khan Trust
      > > for Culture,
      > > >Ford Motor Co. and Siemens, the German
      > > conglomerate. At a
      > > >possible cost of $6 million, the bill would be
      > > about double
      > > >the usual for a Folklife Festival.
      > > >
      > > > Contributing to the complexity of organizing the
      > > festival is
      > > >the participation of a dozen countries, including
      > > several
      > > >former Soviet republics.
      > > >
      > > >"This is much more complicated than a program on
      > > New
      > > >Hampshire," said Richard Kennedy, the festival
      > > co-curator and
      > > >an expert on South Asian and Southeast Asian
      > > culture. Five
      > > >years ago Theodore Levine, a professor at Dartmouth
      > > who had
      > > >worked with the festival, suggested the Silk Road
      > > concept. "I
      > > >thought it was logistically overwhelming and we
      > > couldn't get
      > > >funding," Kennedy said.
      > > >
      > > >When Levine returned three years ago -- with Ma --
      > > Kennedy was
      > > >ready to move ahead. "Still for us to commit the
      > > whole program
      > > >was a leap," he said. What worried him was the
      > > unfamiliarity
      > > >many Americans had about the area's geography,
      > > history and
      > > >culture. But since Sept. 11, Kennedy said, "I
      > > think we have an
      > > >interest in the region and a beginning of
      > > understanding."
      > > >
      > > >In addition to the evocations of Japan and Italy,
      > > the
      > > >festival's main pavilions will represent "Istanbul
      > > Crossroads,"
      > > >Samarkand Square in Uzbekistan, and the Xi'an Tower
      > > of China.
      > > >
      > > >The Smithsonian's approach is cultural, pulling
      > > together
      > > >musicians, storytellers, cooks, potters, Sufi
      > > dervishes,
      > > >embroiderers, fashion designers, stone carvers,
      > > puppetmakers,
      > > >calligraphers, glass blowers and weavers from 20
      > > countries:
      > > >Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, India,
      > > Italy, Iran,
      > > >Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal,
      > > Pakistan,
      > > >Russia, South Korea, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey,
      > > Turkmenistan
      > > >and Uzbekistan. "Most of our artists, 80 to 90
      > > percent of them,
      > > >have never been out of their countries before,"
      > > Kennedy said.
      > > >
      > > > The festival will spotlight about 350 artists,
      > > another record
      > > >for the event. Ma said consultants in the region
      > > "have
      > > >identified some fabulous people. At meetings we
      > > would actually
      > > >feel sad that we couldn't bring everybody."
      > > >
      > > >Ma hopes a visitor who is a potter will watch
      > > another potter,
      > > >and "the next time the visitor picks up a
      > > newspaper and reads
      > > >about information about the potter's country, they
      > > will have
      > > >something to connect," Ma said.
      > > >
      > > > Kennedy said the festival would emphasize artistic
      > > links among
      > > >diverse cultures. "We will put together a Navajo
      > > weaver and a
      > > >Turkish weaver, and look at how the Navajo learned
      > > to work with
      > > >wool from the Spanish, and the design motifs that
      > > the Spaniards
      > > >got from the Turks," he said. Artisans from the
      > > United States,
      > > >representing one-third of the participants, will
      > > show how these
      > > >traditions are kept alive, and modified.
      > > >
      > > > Other themes will be the development of martial
      > > arts,
      > > >papermaking, truck and bus decoration in Pakistan,
      > > Syrian silk
      > > >brocade weavers, the wandering minstrels known as
      > > Kushtia
      > > >Bauls, and throat singing. The countries along the
      > > route
      > > >introduced Chinese silk to the Mediterranean, and
      > > gunpowder,
      > > >mathematics and ceramics to the West.
      > > >
      > > >Music is another essential element of each Folklife
      > > Festival.
      > > >With Ma sitting in from time to time, the concerts
      > > should be
      > > >remarkable. Ma plans to stay the entire two weeks
      > > but he said
      > > >he'd take on the character of Waldo, the children's
      > > book
      > > >character who gets lost in the crowd but is always
      > > there.
      > > >
      > > >"The Silk Road Ensemble will be there and I will
      > > join it at
      > > >various times," Ma said. "My main job is trying to
      > > make sure
      > > >the experience is good for anybody that comes in,
      > > and that they
      > > >are leaving with what starts out as information but
      > > turns into
      > > >knowledge and curiosity."
      >
      >
      >
      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
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