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Director Selects | May 22, 2020

By Thor Steingraber

From your front row seat on the sofa, take a musical trip around the world. In recent seasons, we have brought you artists from three dozen nations under the banner “Music Knows No Borders.” We have chosen artists who are breaking down barriers between racial and ethnic communities, artists who are innovating around the edges of multiple art forms; and artists who put social justice at the forefront of their work. Radio call letters cannot separate classical music from country, Friday jazz is descended from Sunday worship, and the Russian shtetl and the Appalachian barn are not that far apart. By programming with this lens, The Soraya seeks lively artists who bring us to our feet, dancing in the aisles and celebrating our common humanity.



Bring taiko drumming to your living room with Yamato

Originally scheduled to appear at The Soraya in March, Japan’s most popular taiko ensemble, Yamato, brings their exhilarating energy to your living room. Teaching us how to create a make-shift taiko drum, sing, and stand, Yamato will have you chanting “Don Don Don”!



Pico Iyer in conversation with Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy

The Soraya joined forces with Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and organizations nationwide to commission The Fires of Varanasi to be premiered at The Soraya this coming fall. Unfortunately, we are forced to seek a future date to reschedule this important new production created by Ragamala, the company led by the mother-daughter team Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy. Their dance company is one of the most lauded of its kind, based in traditional Indian Bharatanatyam with cross-cultural influences in music and design. Their performance of Written in Water at The Soraya in 2016 was a personal highlight for me. This brand new interview by Pico Iyer, an eloquent observer of global art and culture, will spark your interest in these visionary women.



Silkroad Home Sessions: “Arjuna’s Revelation” from Heroes Take Their Stands

Silkroad, the ensemble formed by Yo-Yo Ma, is considered by many to be the most influential cross-cultural international ensembles. Please consider purchasing one of their many CDs available online, and consider pairing it with the DVD documentary about them called The Music of Strangers. With our travel plans shelved for this summer, you will feel be refreshed by the virtual trip around the globe. Their performance at The Soraya in 2019 was exquisitely mesmerizing. Filmed from our stage, enjoy this video of Silkroad’s “Arjuna’s Revelation” with special guest Aparna Ramaswamy of Ragamala.



Astor Piazzolla “Oblivion” (Art by Ryan Woodward)

The Astor Piazzolla Quintet is a treasure, and single-handedly introduced two generations to the complex rhythms and riffs of tango music. The authentic and original ensemble from Argentina made a rare U.S. appearance at The Soraya this past fall. Few pieces are as widely recognized as Piazzolla’s own “Oblivion,” and here it is in a fresh reimagining by animator Ryan Woodward.

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