Yesterday afternoon I attended a performance by The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. It was a fantastic program from musicians performing at the highest professional level with visible joy and energy. The music was influenced by the traditions of China, Spain, Sicily and India. This thrilling show that was a delight to see and hear, and which opened up for me new ideas about what is beauty. And of course there was Yo-Yo Ma!
Perhaps my favorite piece from the program was Ambush from Ten Sides, which is about a battle that occurred in 202 B.C. between two dynasties fighting for control of what would become China. Hearing Ambush from Ten Sides was amazing, filling the imagination with images of riders racing to war on horseback, of battle and swords. Forget Hollywood: Real performance magic is a dozen or so people, standing on a plain stage, using just their bodies and their musical instruments to vividly and beautifully conjure up an entire ancient battle scene. Ambush from Ten Sides is available on the New Impossibilities disc, below, although on that particular version is performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and thus has a different sound than what I heard live.
Yesterday's show was the last performance for this particular tour by the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. If you have the opportunity to see them when they hit the road in the future, take it.