"In the course of 25 years of performing in different parts of the world, I have become increasingly intrigued by the migration of ideas among communities. In my musical journey, I have had the opportunity to learn from a wealth of different musical voices—from the immense compassion and grace of Bach's cello suites, to the ancient Celtic fiddle traditions alive in Appalachia, to the soulful strains of the bandoneón of Argentina's tango cafés. I would like to invite you now to join me in exploring the rich cultural traditions of the Silk Road, the historic trade route that connected the peoples and traditions of Asia with those of Europe. Throughout my travels, I have thought about the culture, religions and ideas that have been influential for centuries along these historic land and sea routes, and have wondered how these complex interconnections occurred and how new musical voices were formed from the diversity of these traditions. How did an 8th-century Japanese biwa, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, come to be decorated with Persian and Central Asian designs; how did ancient Roman glass influence objects made in China, Korea and Japan; how did such string instruments as the Arab oud, Chinese erhu and Indian sarangi come to influence both East and West?
We live in a world of increasing awareness and interdependence, and I believe that music can act as a magnet to draw people together. Music is an expressive art that can reach to the very core of one's identity. By listening to and learning from the voices of an authentic musical tradition, we become increasingly able to advocate for the worlds they represent. Further, as we interact with unfamiliar musical traditions we encounter voices that are not exclusive to one community. We discover transnational voices that belong to one world.
In 1998, I founded the Silk Road Project to study the ebb and flow of ideas among different cultures along the Silk Road. The Project acts as an umbrella organization and common resource for a number of artistic, cultural and educational programs. By examining the cultural mosaic of the Silk Road, we seek to illuminate the heritages of its countries and identify the voices that represent these traditions today. I believe that when we enlarge our view of the world we also deepen our understanding of our own lives and culture. Through this journey of discovery, the Silk Road Project hopes to plant the seeds of new artistic and cultural growth, and to celebrate living traditions and musical voices throughout the world."