Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Marco Polo in the Cornfields

Also while I was in Bloomington, I had a chance to hear the Silk Road Ensemble in concert at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, a lovely old movie house cum cultural center. It was a fantastic evening.

The Silk Road ensemble is:
Rahman Assadollahi - Qarmon (Azerbaijani button Accordion)–absolutely spectacular! A real star, magnificent showmanship, passion, muscisianship, energy, and with a shock of white hair, big moustache, and dramatic flair. He’s from Tehran, and was just wonderful, such pain and sadness and joy and longing all combined in virtuoso solos. The audience went wild, all his CDs disappeared immediately from the sales kiosk in the lobby.
Munish Sharifov-Kamancha –from Azerbijan, excellent, too, played Eastern and Western numbers with great panache.
Novrus Mamedov-Vocal, Saz & Percussion–also Azerbaijani, also wonderful.
Arif Bagirov-Tar & Guitar-born in Azerbijan, he taught at Tashkent Music School Number 1, and was accompanist fro Ilyas Malayev and Mahabbat Shamayeva.
Avner Shakov-Naqara and Doira–born to a Bukharan Jewish family of musicians, he was the Ringo Starr of this group. Not surprisingly, he’s an alumnus of the drum department at the Tashkent conservatory.
Hakan Toker-Piano-from the Turkish city of Mersin, he has a piano degree from Indiana University. He was young and handsome, with a moustache that looked like one on a terra cotta relic from Alexander the Great. He got up and danced, too…
Shahyar Daneshgar-Vocal and Percussion-an Azerbaijani from Tehran, also an IU alumnus–and a lecturer on Central Eurasian Studies. He’s such a good musician, and such a charming MC, I’d believe what he says about the region…

They gave a heck of a performance. The show began at 7:30 and lasted until after 11 pm. There was a big delegation of Azerbaijanis in the audience, the concert was so exciting that lots of them marched up onto the stage and started dancing to the accordion and orchestra.

If I were I musicologist, I could tell you what it all meant. But all I can say was the show was great, the musicians were great, the MC was great. If the Silk Road ensemble ever plays near you, run–don’t walk–to the ticket office…