Ensemble To Help Kick Off Reopening IlluminAsia Festival Oct. 14–15

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery announce the reopening season residency by members of the Silkroad Ensemble, including musicians hailing from Japan, China, India, and the United States. The residency will include three appearances throughout the museum’s reopening season, presenting music and workshops for a range of audiences. On Oct. 14 and 15, members of the group will perform during the Freer|Sackler’s reopening weekend, “IlluminAsia: A Festival of Asian Art, Food and Cultures,” including unannounced gallery pop-up performances. The residency at the Freer|Sackler continues nearly two decades of rich collaboration between the Smithsonian and Silkroad, which cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded in 1998. Today, Silkroad creates music that engages difference, sparking radical cultural collaboration and passion-driven learning to build a more hopeful world.

Silkroad’s participation in the museum’s reopening weekend will include performances in galleries and outdoors as part of the IlluminAsia Festival, as well as programs for families that explore music along the historical Silk Road. Future residency activities will include performances, workshops and presentations structured around themes ranging from Buddhism to Asian American heritage.

Silkroad’s connection with the museum reaches back to the organization’s creation: Milo C. Beach, a founding member of Silkroad’s board, served as the director of the museums from 1988 until 2001. The Freer|Sackler has presented the ensemble in concert twice before. This latest collaboration represents the deepening of a partnership between organizations committed to engaging with difference and finding unanticipated and exciting cultural connections.

“I am delighted that Silkroad is a partner in Freer|Sackler’s reopening season,” said Ma. “The museum provides an extraordinary example of how culture can simultaneously celebrate difference and foster connection, values central to Silkroad’s work.”

Inspired by the exchange of ideas and traditions along the historical Silk Road and representing an array of cultures, the ensemble models new forms of cultural exchange through performance, workshops and residencies. These Silkroad musicians will interact with the exhibition, weaving music, conversation and personal stories together with the museums’ collections.

In addition to the IlluminAsia Festival appearances, residency activities will take place Dec. 8–10 and May 18–20, 2018, and will give visitors opportunities to engage with ensemble artists and learn about their creative processes and the music performed. Artists taking part in the residencies include Kinan Azmeh (clarinet), Jeffrey Beecher (bass), Nicholas Cords (viola), Sandeep Das (tabla), Hadi Eldebek (oud), Haruka Fujii (percussion), Shaw Pong Liu (violin, erhu), Shane Shanahan (percussion), Kojiro Umezaki (shakuhachi), Wu Man (pipa) and Wu Tong (sheng, bawu, suona, vocals).

About the Freer and Sackler Galleries

Founded in 1923, the Freer Gallery of Art was the Smithsonian’s first art museum, and it was joined by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1987. Together they have long been known for preserving and sharing the treasures of Asia, making inspiring connections between Asia, America and the world. Today, the museum offers exhibitions that highlight the compelling beauty of ancient worlds as well as the vitality of contemporary Asian artists. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the wonders of Asian art in the Freer|Sackler galleries and online.

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., together comprise the nation’s museums of Asian art and contain one of the most important collections of Asian art in the world. The collections feature more than 40,000 objects ranging in time from the Neolithic to the present day, with especially fine groupings of Islamic art, Chinese jades, bronzes and paintings and the art of the ancient Near East. The galleries also contain important masterworks from Japan, ancient Egypt, South and Southeast Asia and Korea, as well as the Freer’s noted collection of works by American artist James McNeill Whistler.

The Freer|Sackler is a part of the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, which is dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge.