Pick of the month:

The Silk Road was a series of trade routes linking ancient China to the Mediterranean and Europe. Not only were silks transported along these roads, but also ideas, technologies and cultures, linking East and West. The Silk Road Ensemble, a pet roject of world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, seeks to do the same, in music.

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Wu Man, pipa

Made up of around sixty or so musicians, composers, artists and storytellers from around the world, the ensemble, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, performs in various configurations, transcending musical genres. The ensemble’s mission is “to connect the world’s neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences around the globe”. “Every time I open a newspaper” writes Yo-Yo Ma, “I am reminded that we live in a world where we can no longer afford not to know our neighbours.”

Among the Silk Road Ensemble’s instruments is the Chinese pipa, a 2000-year-old pear shaped lute, played by virtuoso Wu Man. She has performed as soloist with many of the world’s great orchestras, and has an extensive discography, including several recordings with the Kronos Quartet. In addition to performing with Silk Road at their Roy Thomson Hall concerts on March 19 and 20 (they’re presenting two different programs), she’ll also be the soloist in the Canadian premiere of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with the Toronto Symphony, as part of the New Creations Festival, March 7.

Around the GTA:

Irish vocal/instrumental group Dervish performs at the Rose Theatre in Brampton on March 5; The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre presents its Spring Festival March 7 and 8, featuring traditional Japanese music and dance; The Toronto Classical Turkish Music Ensemble presents a concert March 7 at the Noor Cultural Centre; U of T’s Faculty of Music presents its annual end-of-term concert featuring student world music ensembles, March 14 at MacMillan Theatre and March 19 in Walter Hall; All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church welcomes the Watoto Children’s Choir of Africa, March, 19; the Ashkenaz Foundation presents Jaffa Road, a middle-eastern/Jewish/jazz ensemble in a CD release concert at the Lula Lounge March 25; Heliconian Hall is host to a concert of Georgian and Balkan vocal music, with Machari, Megobrebi and Kundzuli, March 27; The Music Gallery presents The Attar Project, featuring violinist Parmela Attariwala and tabla player Shawn Mativesky, in contemporary works influenced by Indian music; the Victoria College Chorus presents a concert of Celtic music and folk songs from Africa and Asia, April 5 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

And beyond…

McMaster University presents Nagata Shachu, Japanese taiko drumming ensemble; Peterborough’s Showplace Performance Centre presents Celtic Blaze, with fiddler Stephanie Cadman and her band; and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society presents the Orchid Ensemble, in arrangements of traditional Chinese music and newly commissioned works, on traditional instruments.

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