top with previous member Mei Han (2005) and bottom special guest Alan Kushan on santur, (2001 photo: C. Y. Yeung)
Rich Asian musical traditions meet original compositions and modern video technology in a dynamic performance. This project features the repertoire of the Orchid Ensemble’s JUNO nomnated CD “Road to Kashgar”, inspired by the rich cultural heritage embodied by the ancient Silk Road. While in essence Chinese, the music is coloured with the rhythms, modes and character of the many exotic lands and cultural traditions found along the Silk Road. Arrangements of ancient melodies of Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Persian, and Central Asian origins are performed alongside original works by Canadian composers.The Silk Road serves as a metaphor for our North American multicultural environment. Themes of travel, cultural difference and cultural specificity are explored, reflecting our fundamental human similarities.
“This flawless bridge between Eastern and Western traditions, a musical adventure on the Silk Road, left me enchanted and deeply content that all is well with the world.” - Oliver Chronicle
Video Linksmusic from the Orchid Ensemble's CD Road to Kashgar; zheng performed by previous member Mei Han
The Winged Horses of Heaven - Moshe Denburg (2001)
In 138 BC, the emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty sent his general Zhang Qian to contact a western tribe to solicit help to fight invaders from the north. After 13 years of arduous journeys, adventures and misadventures, Zhang Qian returned with news of a stronger and faster breed of horse to help in the wars. Thought to be of celestial origin, these now extinct horses were the compelling motivation behind the opening of a permanent route to the west of China and beyond. This work was commissioned by the Orchid Ensemble through the Commissioning of Canadian Compositions program of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Ya Ribon - arr. R. Raine-Reusch, M. Denburg & Orchid Ensemble (2004)
In the 10th Century, a number of Persian Jews traveled through the Silk Road to settle in Kaifeng, central China. The community they founded still survives today observing Jewish holidays and customs. This arrangement of an Ashkenazi sacred song is a contemporary tribute to the fusing of these cultures.
Hujia - Cai Wenji (b.177 AD), arr.: Lan Tung
This autobiographical piece was written by Lady Cai of the late Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Lady Cai was captured by the Huns in northwest China and forced to marry the Hun king. After 12 years of marriage and bearing two children to the king, the Han negotiated for her release. Although overjoyed with the news that she could finally go home, she was also deeply troubled with the knowledge that she would have to leave her children behind.