The Silk Road Ensemble: Silent City

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13 years ago

For "Silent City," the kamancheh (Persian spike fiddle), Western strings and percussion join in a meditation that is created anew with each performance. Composer and kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor wrote the piece to commemorate the Kurdish village of Halabjah in Iraqi Kurdistan. "I chose to base the piece on an altered A-minor scale using Kurdish themes to remember the Kurdish people." The performers develop the piece by improvisation until the last section, arranged by Ljova (shown in this video), which follows conventional composition and notation. This excerpt was filmed during a concert by the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma in Harvard University's Sanders Theatre in March 2011. Kayhan Kalhor speaks about this piece in a video interview: "Silent City" was made possible by a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation and was first performed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 20, 2005, by the Silk Road Ensemble, artists in residence at Harvard University. "Silent City" was composed by Kayhan Kalhor and arranged by Kayhan Kalhor and Ljova. For more on the Silk Road Ensemble and the Silk Road Project, visit

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