|Introductory Notes for
EMW 1996 Music of the Silk Road Concert
|January 14, 1996|
I like to trace that long, winding trail on a map and imagine the tragic-heroic image of General Zhang Qian
poised to move west on a campaign over two thousand years ago: "I urge you, drain
yet another cup with me, For beyond the Great Wall's end you'll find no trusted friend."
Then the stalwart soldiers moved west, went off with "The Melody of Yang-guan Gate" filling the air. Their intrepid camels set forth noiselessly upon the long, hard road they had to travel. Truly I could see: "On the vast expanse of sand a lone plume of smoke rose up, while o'er the Yellow River's flow the sun's sphere sank toward earth."
China's western region has been through the glories of the past and the decline of the present. Unfazed by glory or neglect, it is stalwart, like the "iron-boned" warriors of old. Were it not for his dauntless spirit, how could it have summoned forth such vitality--a vitality needed to sustain contact between East and West--from such a vast and rugged wilderness?
|"After the Fifteenth Century, ...... the Silk Road has passed through its time of glory. The East and West, however, began a dialogue and opened their minds to each other. In this sense the Silk Road's splendor is still at its height and not faded away at all......"|
|"Though I have never actually gone, yet I have been there, for music gives me abundance, it endows me with wisdom. I have given my life to it, and it, in turn, has given me wings and transported me where I longed to go......"|
|My impressions of the Silk Road have all been garnered from books, movies and my own imagination. Though I promised myself more than once that I would go, for one reason or another I was never able to do so, and so journeying to the Silk Road has become for me a dream that has resisted coming true.|
|China's western region has basked in the favor of early generations and lain in the abandonment of later generations. Like a graceful young beauty it remains poised, neither obsequious nor haughty. Silk Road--the name alone evokes in me visions of the ancient capital the court full of performers, countless images of: "Faces demure, half hidden by the p'ipa they played."|
|Even more delightful to me is the music of the Silk Road.
Beginning in the ancient city of Xi'an, the strains of the mountain song "Xintienyou" rush like the wind across the yellow earth of China's northern plains, resounding so as to rouse feeling even in mountains and rivers. Westward from the Jia-gu Gate (the western extreme of the Great Wall), cutting across the Hexi corridor, over the Qinghai and Gansu regions, cluster upon cluster of musical "blossoms" vie in fragrance and radiance across the barren soil. Across Dunhuang, beyond the Yangguan and Yumengguan Gate, into the south then the north of Xinjiang--this is the land that nurtured so many people with the vastness of its heart, the constant flow of its tenderness forming as it did so a vast ocean of song, a boundless source of delight and enchantment. Moving along the arid sands of the Takla Makan, crossing the Pamir Plateau, the occidental strains become more evident and the South Asian strains emerge, like the tales from "The Thousand and one Nights", and the music, like sumptuous treasure, dazzles the beholder.
Oh. Silk Road that I have dreamt of.
Camels bells ringing and chiming,
Seeking for all time to link Europe and Asia;
Lute strings wailing and trilling,
Creating vast seas of song to intone past and present.
Yet while the dream glowed to life again and again before me, I never managed to reach the Silk Road.
Though I have never actually gone, yet I have been there, for music gives me abundance, it endows me with wisdom. I have given my life to it, and it, in turn, has given me wings and transported me where I longed to go.
And so it is that a year of preparation has brought forth this concert, "Sounds of the Silk Road" for you my audience, for you my friends, to redeem my unfulfilled wish to travel the Silk Road.
After the Fifteenth Century, a sea route opened up, the land route fell into disuse, and the Silk Road has passed through its time of glory. The East and West, however, began a dialogue and opened their minds to each other. In this sense the Silk Road's splendor is still at its height and not faded away at all. Today it continues on beneath our feet. East Meets West Music Arts has journeyed for an extraordinary two years along the "Silk Road" before us today, and the road yet to be traveled is long, very long...
My dream can come true after all.