A musician I am not, but if you break out the cello, I can scarcely breathe for the beauty of it. Obviously, cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a favorite. So this NPR article—“A Yo-Yo Ma Project Brings Together Musicians from Warring Nations”—caught my eye. Its author, Elizabeth Segran, details Ma’s vision for music as the basis for intercultural understanding through his Silk Road Ensemble organization:
“Bringing together the Galician bagpipe, the Chinese pipa, the Japanese shakuhachi, the Persian kamancheh, the Indian tabla, and many other global sounds ensures that audiences around the world are exposed to instruments and sounds they haven’t heard before.”
Take a look and listen here as the group performs “Arabian Waltz”:Moving is the word that best describes the performance: it’s the spirited music, the ensemble of instruments, and the gathering of musicians from around the world. It must be a shadow of what heaven will be, with every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9).
The best part? Ma’s vision is working:
“The musicians say the project has helped them find similarities between musical cultures. When Das began improvising with Kayhan Kalhor, one of Iran’s best-known players of the kamancheh, a kind of fiddle, he found an unexpected kinship between their instruments. ‘It didn’t matter that he was performing a Persian mode and I an Indian raga,’ Das said. ‘Playing with Kayhan for the first time felt like playing with a long-lost cousin.’ ”
Finding an unlikely kinship via an instrument is truly remarkable. Music is a language all its own, one that taps into the heart first, bypassing the walls of judgment and assumptions that keep people at war with each other.
Ma’s project gives a glimpse of hope, reminding us that one day, peace will come. And there will be beautiful music.