December 2012

The heart of our work

Dear Readers,

Many of you may have first experienced what we do at the Silk Road Project by attending a concert. For the past 12 years, in concert halls around the world, we have brought musicians from three continents together on one stage. 


Your enthusiasm for Silk Road Ensemble performances has been heartwarming and encouraging. Our work is an innovative partnership, and the audience is one important half of the equation. We only wish we could visit more of you in your hometowns more frequently.

Touring to three continents annually is a near impossibility, but we are trying. Next year we will release our first concert film worldwide, a production of BFMI, produced in association with Sony Classical. As well as a full concert by the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, interviews will get to the heart of the cross-cultural performing experience. We look forward to sharing more over the next year as we approach the film's release.


During the last five years, we have worked together to develop ways to reach out to children so we can share our passion for connecting ideas across cultures. Making things memorable—knowing something deeply and sharing it broadly—is central to our work and to the classroom experience.

We developed Silk Road Connect, our arts integration program, with the hope that middle schoolers could have the transformational experience of meeting and working with our artists and musicians. Our partner school, JHS 185 in New York City, has been an incredible laboratory for the students, the musicians and the teachers.

To share our work with teachers more broadly, we have developed a summer session in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This past July, more than 80 teachers came from as far away as New Zealand, Hong Kong and Alaska to participate in our “Arts and Passion-Driven Learning Institute.”

We received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from participants. A full 97% of participants rated the program quality as excellent or very good, and most expected to modify their professional practiced based on their experience.

As one educator told us in the evaluation, “I hope you have heard how excited people are—as Yo-Yo Ma said, ‘Switch on the passion.’ This weekend helped to re-ignite that passion. I look forward to next year.”

We too look forward to announcing a second institute that will take place this summer. If you are a teacher and interested in attending, please let us know. We may be able to provide financial aid for you. Join our Silk Road Connect mailing list for announcements.

Global citizenship

Since our founding, through residencies at universities and in museums around the world, we have explored the role of the arts in broad cultural contexts. Acknowledging the values of collaboration, empathy, creativity, passion, discipline and flexibility the arts develop, Yo-Yo and I have been asking ourselves what we can do to give culture a seat at the table of public discourse.

We are pleased to announce a new Cultural Entrepreneurship program developed in partnership with the Harvard Business School and Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The program is aimed at supporting innovative partnerships that unite artistic and entrepreneurial visions.

We hope that over time, Cultural Entrepreneurship will bring about societal change through the arts, here and across the world. As Harvard’s Dean of the Arts and Humanities Diana Sorenson noted, “Aside from inventing arts-related occupations, cultural entrepreneurs contribute to community life through the powerful effects of the arts in the creation of a citizenry that is creative and open to the transformative effect of artistic experience.”

These three areas—performance, education and global citizenship—will be at the heart of our work at the Silk Road Project in the coming years. We look forward to sharing these developments with you and to seeing you somewhere along the road as we travel throughout the States and to India, Asia and Europe in the coming years.


Laura Freid in the Silk Road Project office  

Laura Freid
CEO & Executive Director
Photos © Magdalena Lepka, Jennifer Taylor, David O'Connor


The heart of our work
Our executive director looks ahead

Coming up
Silk Road Ensemble residency preview

Calling cultural entrepreneurs
Harvard i-lab challenge

The power of water
New Calliope rivers issue

Reports from the road
Silk Road Ensemble member news