Episodes:

Krishna Mohan Bhatt performs Indian ragas on sitar, accompanied by tablas virtuoso Anindo Chatterjee on percussion. Their concert features an extensive rendition of raga Yaman Kalyan as well as music inspired by folk tunes and Bengali devotional songs.

Krishna Mohan Bhatt performs Indian ragas on sitar, accompanied by tablas virtuoso Anindo Chatterjee on percussion. Their concert features an extensive rendition of raga Yaman Kalyan as well as music inspired by folk tunes and Bengali devotional songs.

North Indian Classical Music:
Krishna Mohan Bhatt, sitar;
Anindo Chatterjee, tabla

Hear one of India’s most esteemed soloists as Krishna Mohan Bhatt performs Indian ragas on sitar, accompanied by tabla virtuoso Anindo Chatterjee on percussion. Their concert features an extensive rendition of raga Yaman Kalyan as well as music inspired by folk tunes and Bengali devotional songs. Yaman Kalyan is one of the most popular ragas and can be heard throughout Indian musical culture, from Bollywood film songs to the most elevated classical recitals.

A photo of the Jasper Quartet.

Hear the award-winning Jasper String Quartet play two works by the Japanese composer Akira Nishimura: Spring, part of a larger project inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Pulse of Lights. The program also features Haydn’s Quartet op. 64, no. 6 and Mendelssohn’s lyrically beautiful String Quartet in D.

Jasper String Quartet:
Akira Nishimura’s Spring

Hear the award-winning Jasper String Quartet play two works by the Japanese composer Akira Nishimura: Pulse of Lights, which was premiered in Tokyo in 1992, and Spring, which received its world premiere at this concert and is inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Virtuosos from the Siberian republic of Tuva sing on the steps of the Freer Gallery of Art in 2002.

Four virtuosos from the Siberian republic of Tuva astonished listeners with their overtone singing in this concert, which was recorded on the steps of the Freer Gallery of Art in 2002.

Throat Singers from Tuva:
Huun-Huur-Tu

Four virtuosos from the Siberian republic of Tuva astonished listeners with their overtone singing in this concert at the Freer Gallery. Each singer’s ability to produce multiple pitches at once draws on ancient pastoral music that invokes the rich sounds of nature, from waterfalls and babbling brooks to complex bird songs and the howling winds of the steppe. This live performance was recorded on the steps of the Freer Gallery of Art in 2002.

Chinese Bronze Age bells.

Hear new music for Bronze Age bells, recent works for Chinese instruments, folk songs in modern arrangements by Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long, and musical scores found in the 11th-century Buddhist caves in Dunhuang. Grammy-nominated composer Zhou Tian’s Hundred Antiquities was co-commissioned by the Freer and Sackler Galleries in conjunction with the exhibition Resound: Ancient Bells of China.

Hundred Antiquities: Music From China

Hear new music for Bronze Age bells, folk songs arranged by Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long, music from 11th-century Buddhist caves, and “Hundred Antiquities” by Grammy-nominated composer Zhou Tian, co-commissioned by the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This concert was presented in 2018 in conjunction with the exhibition Resound: Ancient Bells of China.

Katherine Chi sitting at the piano.

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of piano music inspired by Egypt. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Inspired by Egypt:
Katherine Chi and Dina Vainshtein, pianos

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of music inspired by Egypt. Hear it performed in the composer’s own rapturous arrangement for two pianos. Also enjoy the atmospheric Canope, Claude Debussy’s musical response to funerary urns from the ancient Nile, and Anton Arensky’s charming Egyptian Nights, written for Russia’s Imperial Ballet. The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s spectacular Études-tableaux. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Songs of Okinawa: The Ryukyuans

Enjoy music unique to Japan’s southernmost region, from the lyrical songs and dance rhythms of folk music to contemporary styles inspired by jazz and pop. The Ryukyuans trio features Yukito Ara, Isamu Shimoji, and Shinobu Matsuda on vocals and the sanshin (Okinawan lute). They are joined by Satoshi “Sunday” Nakasone on Okinawan drum. Recorded in concert at the Freer Gallery as part of the Music From Japan Festival 2014.

Experience soulful and celebratory music from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Shashmaqam, an ensemble of prominent artists from New York’s Central Asian community. This performance was presented in 2018 in conjunction with the exhibition To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia.

Music of Central Asia: Shashmaqam

Experience soulful and celebratory music from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Shashmaqam, an ensemble of prominent artists from New York’s Central Asian community. The ensemble specializes in wedding music for vocals, lute (tar), accordion, and percussion, as well as the region’s classical repertoire for which the group is named. This performance was presented in 2018 in conjunction with the exhibition To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia.

Detail, At Ease in the Countryside: Scholars and Fishermen. Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783–1856).

Much of the Japanese and Chinese music heard on this podcast evokes some aspect of nature: waves, birds, trees, sunrise, and the seasons. Japanese artists have sometimes depicted the koto (or a related instrument) being played by scholars contemplating the natural world, as in the screen above—an approach incorporated from Chinese tradition. Detail, At Ease in the Countryside: Scholars and Fishermen. Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783–1856). Japan, Edo period, 19th century. Six-panel screen; ink and light color on paper. Purchase, F1961.1

Music for the Soul:
From East Asia to the Middle East

Relax with gentle yet invigorating music performed by virtuoso artists from Japan, China, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and the United States. These diverse concerts were recorded live at the Freer and Sackler Galleries between 2008 and 2019.

Gao Hong and Issam Rafea perform on the Chinese and Arab lutes on September 14, 2019.

Enjoy these soothing, sophisticated duets on Chinese and Arab lutes by virtuosos of the pipa and ‘ud. Gao Hong and Issam Rafea engage in musical conversations that highlight the expressive magic of instruments that share common roots but are rarely heard together.

Musical Encounters along the Silk Road:
Gao Hong, pipa, and Issam Rafea, ‘ud

Enjoy these soothing, sophisticated duets on Chinese and Arab lutes, improvised by virtuosos Gao Hong on the pipa and Issam Rafea on the ‘ud. Their musical conversations highlight the expressive magic of two instruments that share common roots but are rarely heard together.

Kadri Gopalnath in performance at Le Guess Who? (Netherlands) in 2018 (photo leguesswho.nl)

Saxophone Summit: Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa

Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa, two leading artists from American jazz and Indian classical music, combine their prodigious talents in this one-of-a-kind collaboration. They are backed up by an all-star lineup of guitarist Rez Abbasi, violinist A. Kanyakumari, drummers Royal Hartigan and Poovalur Sriji, and bassist Carlo de Rosa.

Vocalist Ustād Mahwash performing at the Freer and Sackler Galleries

Vocalist Ustād Mahwash is accompanied by Ahsan Ahmad on tabla (drums) and Khalil Ragheb on vocals and harmonium (keyboard) in performance at the Freer and Sackler Galleries in January 2017 within the exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan.

The Art of Afghan Music: Ustād Mahwash, vocals

Afghanistan’s most beloved singer, Ustād Farīda Mahwash, performs romantic Persian poetry, Kabuli songs, and Afghan folk music. She received the BBC World Music Award for the CD Radio Kaboul. A former star on Radio Afghanistan, Mahwash left the country in 1991 and now lives and performs in the United States. Ahsan Ahmad on tabla (drums) and Khalil Ragheb on vocals and harmonium (keyboard) accompany her.

“The Shanghai Quartet performs composer Ye Xiaogang’s Colorful Sutra Banner as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series. The quartet is accompanied by Gloria Chien on the piano.”

Colorful Sutra Banner: Shanghai Quartet, with Gloria Chien, Piano

Hear composer Ye Xiaogang’s musical work Colorful Sutra Banner, inspired by the Buddhist prayer flags he saw in the Tibetan landscape. The same artists who played the composition’s American premiere at Lincoln Center perform on this podcast. Mendelssohn’s Quartet in E-flat Major and Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor complete the program.

Wu Man and Shanghai Quartet

Shanghai Quartet with Wu Man, pipa

Two-time Grammy nominee Wu Man performs on pipa (Chinese lute) with the Shanghai Quartet for Red Lantern by Zhao Jiping and Zhao Lin, based on the soundtrack to Zhang Yimou’s Oscar-nominated film Raise the Red Lantern.  She and the quartet also perform Tan Dun’s seminal work, Ghost Opera. Completing the program are two pieces for the quartet: Yi-wen Jiang’s ChinaSong and Song of the Ch’in, by Grammy nominee Zhou Long.

Quraishi holding a stringed instrument

Quraishi plays the Afghan rubab.

The Art of Afghan Music: Quraishi, rubab

Enjoy music from Afghanistan as Quraishi performs on the rubāb. The twenty “sympathetic strings” of Afghanistan’s national instrument give this traditional lute a hauntingly beautiful sound. Quraishi performs folk melodies from across the country and Afghan classical music dating to nineteenth-century Kabul, when the city’s rulers imported outstanding musicians from Lahore.

Woman in white jumpsuit sings on theater stage while surrounded by seven seated musicians.

Syrian vocalist Nadia Raies performed songs from the 1942 film Mamnu’ Al Hubb (Love is Forbidden), the 1958 film Ma Lish Gheirak (I Have No One but You), and the 1959 film Irham Hubbi (Have Mercy for My Love) with the Simon Shaheen Ensemble.

Musical Gems of Arab Cinema

Enjoy classic film music from the golden age of Arab cinema, the 1930s to the 1960s. Simon Shaheenperforms on the ‘ud (Arab lute) and violin with Syrian vocalist Nadia Raies, ney (flute) master Bassam Saba, and an ensemble of qanun (Arab zither), violins, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 21, 2018.

Simon Shaheen performing on the Arab lute.

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

Arab-Latin-Jazz Fusions: Simon Shaheen and Qantara

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

Musicians from Marlboro: Penderecki and Brahms

Violinist Robin Scott, a member of the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet, joins four other participants in the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival to perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Trio and Johannes Brahms’ String Quintet, op. 88. He performs with violinist Tessa Lark, violists Rebecca Albers and Molly Carr, and cellist Marcy Rosen.

Members of the Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble posing for a photo.

Hear new and traditional music for Japanese instruments performed by this ensemble of fourteen kotos with shamisen and shakuhachi. Based in New York, the Miyabi Ensemble extends the range of music for Japanese instruments through an array of innovative styles. Guest artists John Kaizan Neptune on shakuhachi, guitarist Michael Gilsinan, and percussionist Manny Arciniega join ensemble director Masayo Ishigure for this concert. Masayo Ishigure can be heard on the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to the feature film Memoirs of a Geisha.

Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble

Hear new and traditional music for Japanese instruments performed by this ensemble of fourteen kotos with shamisen and shakuhachi. Based in New York, the Miyabi Ensemble extends the range of music for Japanese instruments through an array of innovative styles. Guest artists John Kaizan Neptune on shakuhachi, guitarist Michael Gilsinan, and percussionist Manny Arciniega join ensemble director Masayo Ishigure for this concert. Masayo Ishigure can be heard on the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to the feature film Memoirs of a Geisha.

Members of the Silkroad Ensemble performing a new composition at the Freer|Sackler.

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

Silkroad Ensemble: Musical Postcards from the Freer|Sackler

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

musicians

Buddhist Music from Zhihua Temple

Hear Buddhist music from seventeenth-century China as the Zhihua Buddhist Temple Ensemble performs on traditional ritual instruments. This six-person group features two members of the twenty-seventh generation of Zhihua musicians, a long-time artist with the Shanghai Peking Opera House Orchestra, and a former member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble.

two musicians on a stage

Baila Music from Sri Lanka: The Gypsies

Get ready to move to the infectious rhythms of baila, a unique form of dance music from Sri Lanka that originated among Portuguese fishermen and African slaves in the colonial period. Modern baila is now popular in Sri Lankan communities around the world, played at parties, weddings, and dance clubs. This concert was recorded on the Freer Gallery’s plaza, facing the National Mall, in conjunction with the exhibition Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Nowruz Performance

Persian Music: Classical and New (Part Two)

1Sahba Motallebi performs classical and original music for Iranian lutes as part of the Freer|Sackler’s Persian New Year celebration. She is one of the few women worldwide who plays these instruments in major concert halls. Motallebi specializes in Persian classical music, a tradition of virtuoso improvisation based on melodic modes chosen to reflect the mood of the musician and the occasion.

Nowruz Performance

Persian Music: Classical and New (Part One)

Sahba Motallebi performs classical and original music for Iranian lutes as part of the Freer|Sackler’s Persian New Year celebration. She is one of the few women worldwide who plays these instruments in major concert halls. Motallebi specializes in Persian classical music, a tradition of virtuoso improvisation based on melodic modes chosen to reflect the mood of the musician and the occasion.

performers

The Lightbulb Ensemble performing Hamsa: Five Tales on traditional Balinese gamelan with organ, guitar, and voice in 2016. Their performance at the Hammer Auditorium was part of Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections, a joint presentation of the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, George Washington University, and the Embassy of Indonesia.

The Lightbulb Ensemble: Tales of Hamsa

In this virtuoso performance, a traditional Balinese gamelan orchestra combines with organ, guitar, and voice to tell the allegorical story of a beggar’s perplexing dreams about the Five Pillars of Islam. With entrancing music by Brian Baumbusch and libretto by Paul Baumbusch, this compelling music puts the shimmering sounds of gamelan in an entirely new context. Presented in 2016 as part of the festival Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections.

Bell Yung performing

Painting with Music: Bell Yung, qin

Bell Yung performs on the qin at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition Painting with Words: Gentleman Artists of the Ming Dynasty. He is emeritus professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in the history and theory of music of the qin as well as Chinese ritual music and Cantonese opera and narrative songs. The qin he plays, named Pines in Ten Thousand Gullies, dates to the late Ming dynasty.

two musicians on stage playing instruments

The Art of Afghan Music

Homayun Sakhi, rubāb; Salar Nader, tabla

Enjoy Afghan folk and classical music performed by Homayun Sakhi, a leading exponent of the eighteen-stringed rubāb (lute). He performs folk songs from Kabul, dance tunes from the Panjsher Valley, and Indian ragas that Afghans have prized since the Mughal era. Homayun Sakhi has performed at Carnegie Hall with Salar Nader and is featured on two Smithsonian Folkways recordings. His appearances at the Freer|Sackler were presented in 2016 in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative and in conjunction with the exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan.

Detail, Waves at Matsushima 松島図屏風

Detail, Waves at Matsushima 松島図屏風; F1906.231-232

Making Musical Waves: The Legacy of Yatsuhashi

This concert was presented in 2015 in conjunction with the exhibition Sōtatsu: Making Waves, which was on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from October 24, 2015, through January 31, 2016.

Seijo Tominari, koto, shamisen, and voice
Seiritsu Tomio, koto and voice
Yodo Kurahashi, shakuhachi
Ayako Kurahashi, koto and voice
Miyuki Yoshikami, koto and voice

Cantate Chamber Singers, Gisele Becker, director

The Tarek Yamani Trio performed at the Freer Gallery on December 6, 2014. Left to right are Tarek Yamani (piano), Petros Klampanis (bass), and Evan Sherman (drums). The trio performed jazz standards along with Tarek’s original jazz arrangements of classic Arab songs from the 1950s.

A Jazz Take on Classic Arab Song: Tarek Yamani Trio

Take a jazz journey to the Arab world of the 1950s with Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani and his original arrangements of music from the classic era of Arab songs. The Beirut-born Yamani is joined by bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Evan Sherman. Yamani breathes invigorating new life into songs made wildly popular by such singers as Uum Kulthum and composers Sayyid Darwīsh and Mohammad al-Maslūb and their orchestras. Winner of the Thelonius Monk Competition in 2010, Yamani created the annual music initiative Beirut Speaks Jazz in 2013 and has performed at the United Nations and in clubs across New York City.

This concert was originally performed at the Meyer Auditorium on December 6, 2014.

French pianist David Kadouch performed at the Freer Gallery of Art in December 2014.

The Traveler’s Ear: Scenes from Music

Take an enchanting, musical journey through the great outdoors. Award-winning French pianist David Kadouch performs travel-inspired works by Bach, Schumann, Liszt, and Bartók. Kadouch made his New York debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art after winning top prizes at the Beethoven Bonn Competition and Leeds International Piano Competition. This concert was presented in conjunction with The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes from Asia.

Dariush Saghafi performs on the Persian santur at the Freer Gallery in 2014. He taught santur at the Tabriz Institute of Fine Arts in Iran before moving to the United States. Saghafi has appeared at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 2008 he premiered Reza Vali’s Caligraphy no. 4 with the Quarteto Latinoamericano.

Masters of the Persian Santur: Dariush Saghafi and Kazem Davoudian

Two virtuosos of the Iranian hammered dulcimer explore the subtle nuances and dramatic flair of Persian classical music on this ancient instrument. Their improvisations, performed at the Freer Gallery of Art in 2014, are based on the Persian dastgāhs, melodic modes that are comparable in richness and history to the ragas of India.

The Legacy of Western Music in Meiji Japan – Kamio

The brilliant Japanese violinist Mayuko Kamio, a gold medalist at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, performs Johannes Brahms’ Scherzo from his F-A-E Sonata; Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane; Toshio Hosokawa’s Vertical Time Study III; Shinichiro Ikebe’s Themes from the Japanese film Catharsis, and an encore of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. This concert was recorded in 2014 in conjunction with Kiyochika: Master of the Night.

The Legacy of Western Music in Meiji Japan – Vonsattel

Enjoy the Romantic music that so entranced Japan in the late nineteenth century with this recital by the acclaimed Swiss-born pianist Gilles Vonsattel, whose 2011 CD was named a classical album of the year by Time Out New York. Beethoven’s beloved “Moonlight” Sonata and Bagatelles are played alongside works by Liszt and Schumann. The podcast concludes with Debussy’s atmospheric Images, Books I and II, compositions that were directly inspired by Japanese prints. This concert took place in conjunction with the 2014 exhibition, Kyochika: Master of the Night.

Van Raat seated at piano

Music of Toru Takemitsu and Tan Dun: Ralph Van Raat, piano

In this compelling recital, Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat performs rarely heard music by the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu and Chinese-born composer Tan Dun. Takemitsu, well known for his film scores, made his fame as a master of the orchestral colors that he ingeniously employs in his piano works. Tan Dun’s early fame came from his innovative use of percussion, which he integrated into his music for piano. Van Raat made his East Coast debut with this Freer Gallery recital in 2014, shortly after he performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in his first North American appearance.

The full ensemble heard on this podcast includes (left to right) Basel Rajoub, tenor saxophone; Kenan Adnawi, ‘ud; Naghib Shanbehzadeh, percussion; and Saeid Shanbehzadeh, Persian bagpipe. (Photo by Scott Friedlander © 2014, used with permission.)

Sound: The Encounter: New Music from Iran and Syria

Four jazz-oriented artists from the Middle East merge the musical traditions for Persian and Arab bagpipe, double clarinet, lute, and drums along with the Western saxophone. Together they forge new sounds that transport ancient melodies into modern idioms. This performance was recorded live in concert at the Freer Gallery on December 12, 2013, and was presented in cooperation with the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

Opening the concert was the trompong kebyar dance. I Nyoman Maria created its music and choreography in 1925. The name reflects the fact that the dancer (here, I Putu Dedik Sutyana) also plays the trompong, a row of gong-chimes.

Shimmering Sounds from Bali: The Gamelan Ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts

Thrill to the high-voltage music of the Balinese gamelan in this electrifying performance by the professional ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. This all-star orchestra conveys the virtuosic tempos and dramatic shifts for which the Balinese gamelan is so justly famous. This music was recorded in 2013 as part of Performing Indonesia: A Conference and Festival of Music, Dance, and Drama.

Music for the dance Lawung Jajar, created by Sultan Hamengku Buwana I (reigned 1755−92), concludes the podcast. This dance is based on military traditions at the court, specifically the lance maneuvers (lawung). The dancers for the performance were Yata, Pramutomo, Icuk Ismunandar, Widaru Krefianto Darmawan, and Anon Suneko.

Javanese Gamelan Music

Immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of Javanese gongs and xylophones in this performance by the gamelan ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. The orchestra features a vast array of bronze gongs and bronze-key xylophones; mellifluous vocals and classical fiddle complete the beguiling mix. This performance was recorded in 2013 as part of Performing Indonesia: A Conference and Festival of Music, Dance, and Drama.

Man playing an instrument on stage

Yogic Sounds of India: K. Shridhar, sarod

Immerse yourself in the yoga of sound (nada yoga) through contemplative melodic explorations and invigorating rhythmic improvisations performed by K. Sridhar, one of India’s most prominent soloists on the sarod (Indian lute). Sridhar believes Indian ragas “can be appreciated as a language that reveals different aspects of the Divine,” and he discusses the yoga of sound in the podcast notes. This performance was recorded live in concert in 2013 in conjunction with the exhibition Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

This portion of the scroll A Hundred Birds Worship the Phoenixes focuses on the legendary origin of this mythical bird. In this version of the story, the birds of the forest gather annually to pay homage to the phoenixes for saving their lives during a terrible crisis (a forest fire in one case, a drought in another). Once saved, the birds shower their self-sacrificing heroes with feathers plucked from their own bodies, transforming the phoenixes into the multicolored birds of myth. Detail, A Hundred Birds Worship the Phoenixes, Xu Xi (act. mid-10th century). China, Qing dynasty, 18th century. Ink and color on silk. Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1909.218.

Chinese Music for the Phoenix: Washington Guzheng Society

Enjoy the graceful melodies and lovely textures of the classical Chinese guzheng, a zither with twenty-one strings that dates to the fifth century BCE. Virtuoso Bing Xia and her student Rujia Teng perform classical and contemporary works that embody many aspects of the mythical phoenix of Chinese legend. Their performance was recorded in 2013 in conjunction with the exhibition Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project, which was on view in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from April 27 to September 2, 2013.

 

Naseer Shamma’s Al-Oyoun Ensemble

Hear evocative solos and refreshing new arrangements of Arab music performed by Naseer Shamma and his Cairo-based ensemble. One of the Middle East’s leading ‘ud (lute) virtuosos, Shamma is joined by musicians performing on violin, flute (nay), dulcimer (qanun), cello, and percussion. The concert includes Shamma’s original compositions, Venus and Halat Wajd (Rapture.)

The Momenta Quartet originally assembled a version ofthe program, “Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism,” at the request of the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), which specializes in Tibetan Buddhist and other Himalayan art. The Quartet’s members are (left to right) Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Adda Kridler, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; and Michael Haas, cello.

Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism

Composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, and the United States explore aspects of Buddhism through music written for string quartet. Formed in 2004, the adventuresome Momenta Quartet has performed often in New York at BargeMusic, Tonic, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Roulette, and Symphony Space. It also serves as the quartet-in-residence at Temple University. This concert was recorded as part of the Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on November 8, 2012.

Left to right: Members of the Saudi Ensemble perform at the Sackler Gallery in November 2012 on ud (lute), violin, and qanun (zither). Pictured are Mohammad Sultan, ‘ud; Adel Adbul Dayem, violin; and Abdullah Khateri, qanun.

Sounds from Arabia: Arab Music from the Saudi Ensemble

Experience traditional music for Saudi weddings, fishing expeditions, love songs, and other occasions performed by this six-member ensemble from Jeddah. The musicians play violin, ‘ud (lute), nay (flute), tabla (drum), and qanun (zither). Recorded in November 2012 in conjunction with the exhibition Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ulzhan Baibosynova performs music for voice and dombyra at the Sackler Gallery in 2012. She specializes in the epic songs of Kazakhstan and has performed at Carnegie Hall and the London Coliseum. Along with Raushan Orozbaeva, she represented Kazakhstan in the River of Music Festival held in London prior to the Summer Olympics in 2012.

The Bardic Divas: Women’s Voices from Kazakhstan

Experience the powerful music of Kazakhstan’s nomadic culture, performed by three women who specialize in performing heroic epics, lyrical songs of celebration, and shamanic fiddle. Their music evokes the expansive plains and open skies of Central Asia as well as the long history of the Kazakhs who have prospered in a harshly beautiful land at the heart of the Silk Road. This concert features Ulzhan Baibosynova and Ardak Issataeva on vocals and dombyra (Kazakh lute) and Raushan Orazbaeva on qobyz (Kazakh fiddle). It was presented in conjunction with the exhibition Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan in 2012.

 

Kayhan Kalhor uses a plucking technique in performing on the traditionally bowed instrument. He and Behrouz Jamali take a bow following their performance at the Freer Gallery on March 17, 2012.

Persian Classical Music

Hear this three-time Grammy nominee and original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble return to his roots in this performance of Persian classical music on kamanche, the traditional Iranian fiddle. Kayhan Kalhor’s fluid and compelling improvisations on the classic Persian modes have brought this venerable music tradition to new heights for audiences around the world. This performance was recorded at the Meyer Auditorium of the Freer Gallery of Art on March 17, 2012.

Calefax Reed Quintet: Bonus Track

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

This concert podcast explores relationships between visual arts and music, specifically the work of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), his influence on French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and their mutual connection to Japan. During the 1870s and 80s, Whistler created a series of dark, atmospheric paintings of nighttime landscapes that he called "nocturnes," such as this one depicting the south bank of the Thames River. His inspiration for these works came, in part, from Japanese woodblock prints, while the term "nocturne" was suggested to Whistler by one of his patrons, Frederick Leyland, an amateur pianist. Leyland, in turn, borrowed the label from Frédéric Chopin's piano works of the same name, written in the 1830s. Some years later, Debussy was inspired by Whistler (rather than Chopin) when he composed orchestral works that he in turn titled "nocturnes" in the 1890s. Nocturne: Blue and Silver—Battersea Reach; by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903); 1870-1875; oil on canvas; gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.97a-b

Calefax Reed Quintet: Walden

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

The ensemble for this concert in February 2012 featured performers on several instruments modeled after those preserved in the Shoso-in. Left to right are Fuyuhiko Sasaki, kugo (harp); Mayumi Miyata, sho (mouth organ); Kyoko Kato, chimes; Hitomo Nakamura, hichiriki (double-reed); and Takeshi Sasamoto, Shoso-in shakuhachi.

Music From Japan: Echoes of the Silk Road

Hear new and reconstructed music for an ancient West Asian harp that was preserved, along with other Silk Road treasures, at the Shoso-in, an eighth-century Japanese imperial storehouse in the temple city of Nara. Harp soloist Fuyuhiko Sasaki recreates the sound of the kugo (harp) in works commissioned for the National Theater of Japan and to commemorate the 1,200th anniversary of the city of Kyoto and honor the victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. He was joined by five other ensemble members for this concert recorded at the Freer Gallery on February 22, 2012, as part of Music From Japan Festival 2012.

Heo Yoon-jeong is director of the Tori Ensemble and Tori Project. Here she performs on ajaeng (bowed zither) at the Freer|Sackler on December 8, 2011.

The Arirang of Tori: A Korean and American Jazz Collaboration

Hear Korea’s most beloved folksong, “Arirang,” interpreted by seven leading improvisers from Korea and New York. Led by Heo Yoon-jeong on zithers and Ned Rothenberg on reeds, the Tori Project treats five regional styles of “Arirang” to a compelling array of variations and extrapolations. This concert was recorded at the Freer|Sackler on December 8, 2011.

This detail, from a carved lacquer box, belongs to a series of intimate vignettes showing gentlemen enjoying music in outdoor settings. In this scene, an elderly musician plays the pipa for his friends, who are seated in a bamboo grove. Because the group shown on the lacquer box includes seven members, it is tempting to associate the scene with the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, a group of scholars, writers, and musicians who shared an interest in Taoist ideas. It is said that they chose to resign their official posts and live in seclusion to avoid the political difficulties that arose at court during the late third century CE. Detail, carved lacquer food box. Wang Ming, late 15th century. China, Ming dynasty, Hongzhi reign, 1488–1505. Carved black, red, and yellow lacquer over wood. Purchase, F1968.76a–b.

Sounds of the Dragon: Virtuoso Music for Chinese and Western Instruments

Hear new works for violin, cello, piano, erhu, and pipa composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Zhou Long; Beijing-based composer Lu Pei; and Chen Yi, winner of the Charles Ives Living Award. Two outstanding ensembles–Music From China and Music From Copland House–join forces for this performance, presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on November 3, 2011.

Yumi Kurosawa performs koto with the Lark Quartet at the Freer Gallery of Art in the Washington, DC, premiere of Daron Hagen’s concerto Genji. From left to right are Deborah Buck, violin; Basia Danilow, violin; Yumi Kurosawa, koto; Caroline Stinson, cello; and Kathryn Lockwood, viola.

Koto Meets Quartet: Yumi Kurosawa and the Lark String Quartet

Hear a gorgeous new concerto for the Japanese koto and Western string quartet by American composer Daron Hagen, who has written works for the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Kings Singers, among many others. Preceding that are two contrasting works for solo koto: a classical piece by seventeenth-century composer Kengyo Yatsuhashi and Yumi Kurosawa’s own new work for the instrument. This concert was recorded in the Freer|Sackler’s Meyer Auditorium as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on October 13, 2011.

For more on the koto and Yumi Kurosawa, mark your calendar for Look and Listen: Asian Art and Music on June 24, 2020.