About Silkroad Ensemble
The Silkroad Ensemble, a Grammy-winning music collective comprising dozens of musicians, composers, storytellers, and other artists, grew out of a project and organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998. His idea was to bring together musicians from diverse cultures to share ideas, collaborate in performance, and ultimately broaden the experiences of audiences. Initially, musicians explored the cultural roots and styles of music in the countries and communities along the ancient trade route that joined Europe and East Asia, using native instruments. Their first album, Silk Road Journey: When Strangers Meet, appeared in 2002. Since then, the music has expanded its horizons globally, just as it has come to include original works in addition to new interpretations of older music. In 2015, the project was the subject of the documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. They won their first Grammy Award for the next year's Sing Me Home. The parent organization, Silkroad, has also expanded into a wide-reaching nonprofit engaged in uniting artists of many disciplines, educators, and businesspeople to exchange viewpoints and learn from one another.
Introducing listeners to traditional music from several cultures, the first album from the group, Silk Road Journey: When Strangers Meet (2002), was widely praised for its pan-global sound, as was its second, Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (2005). A collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 2007's New Impossibilities was the result of a yearlong, citywide residency project. Like their first two albums, it was issued by Sony Classical and reached the Top Three of the Billboard Classical Albums chart.
Released in 2009 by World Village, Off the Map featured music from Gabriela Lena Frank, Angel Lam, Evan Ziporyn, and Osvaldo Golijov composed specifically for the ensemble. Proving the skills of the group without Ma's presence, it was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Classical Crossover Album. Ma returned to recording with Silkroad Ensemble for 2013's A Playlist Without Borders, which also marked a return to Sony. Their next release, Sing Me Home, was recorded during the filming of the documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, directed by Morgan Neville. Arriving on Sony in early 2016 as the film made its premiere on the festival circuit, it went to number one on the classical albums, classical crossover, and world albums charts on its way to winning a Grammy for Best World Music Album.
The group then provided the soundtrack for the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary The Vietnam War, with the album appearing on In a Circle Records as the ten-part series premiered on PBS in September 2017. In 2020, the Silkroad Ensemble returned with a recording of Golijov's tone poem Falling Out of Time. The composer's first large-scale work in over a decade, it was based on the novel by David Grossman and composed, again, for the ensemble. ~ Patsy Morita & Marcy Donelson