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Vijay Iyer Premieres "City of Sand" with A Far Cry and Silk Road Ensemble

The city of Dunhuang, located in modern China's Northwestern province of Gansu, was for centuries a major landmark in the silk road that connected dozens of cultures across two continents. Known in early Arabo-Persian as "Saju", or "Shazhou", this "city of sand" has inspired Vijay Iyer to compose an eponymous piece for the Silk Road Ensemble and A Far Cry, which will premiere in Boston on May 26th.


(photo: Bart Babinski)


City of Sand
,
which was co-commissioned by the Silk Road Ensemble and A Far Cry, takes inspiration from millenia-old caves found in Dunhuang, which contain what Iyer calls a "deliriously hybrid Buddhism informed by Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, early Islam, Taoism, Confucianism, and Manichaeism." Iyer cites this cave's "organic globalism" as inspiration for his new piece, which uses improvisation to "help us make the most of our shared presence."

Iyer's new work is scored for clarinet, tabla, pipa, percussion and string orchestra. The performance features soloists from the Silk Road Ensemble, including Kinan Azmeh (clarinet), Sandeep Das (tabla), Wu Man (pipa), and Joseph Gramley (percussion).

A live-stream of the sold-out concert will be available at A Far Cry's website. Check out Iyer discussing his previous collaboratin with the Silk Road Ensemble—2013's Playlist for an Extreme Occasion—below. 

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