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Crossing Boundaries Concert Series Vol. 13: On the Silk Road Through Dunhuang

November 15, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - November 23, 2020 @ 3:00 am EST

$10 – $30
On the Silk Road Through Dunhuang

CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing) presents CROSSING BOUNDARIES Concert Series Vol. 13: ON THE SILK ROAD THROUGH DUNHUANG, curated by GAMIN with music by the EURASIA CONSORTwith guest artist GAMIN and dance by KAESHI CHAI. This program celebrates the intoxicating musical and cultural influences that propagated along the legendary Silk Road and features music from Tang Dynasty China (7c – 10c), 13th and 16th century Iran and 13th century Spain.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this concert will be filmed and streamed online, premiering on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 1 pm with a live Q&A. The concert will be available to watch for seven days. Tickets for this year’s online concerts will be available for $30, $20, or $10.

EURASIA CONSORT brings together three artists recognized as specialists in the ancient musical traditions. Through their research, teaching, and performances, they seek a common understanding of the world’s great music traditions along the ancient Silk Road. https://www.eurasiaconsort.com

GAMIN is widely considered to be the foremost Korean traditional woodwind player in the Americas today and has performed around the world with luminaries such as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.

KAESHI CHAI is one of the leading figures in the NYC Near East dance scene, having performed at Central Park’s Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, BAM, etc. From 2009-2016 she directed, co-choreographed, and toured the theatrical dance show Journey Along the Silk Road throughout the US, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Australia and Italy.

curator: gamin

musicians: Tomoko Sugawara (kugo/harp), Rex Benincasa (percussion), Adem Birson (oud), gamin (piri/flute)

choreography/dance: Kaeshi Chai

This program brings us from China to Spain at a time when Chang’an was China’s capital. We follow the famous Silk Road, illustrated with caves showing Buddhist ensembles and orchestras. There are many harps, lutes, zithers, flutes and percussion. Some of the music survived in manuscripts, and have been transcribed by Chinese, Japanese, and Western scholars. Some transcribed ones are on today’s program. The paintings depict a large number of percussion instruments, far more than what the manuscripts mention.

Many kinds of people moved on the Silk Road. The Chinese brought silk to the West, and Iranians imported harps and lutes to China. Sogdians lived in the North-East of Iran and controlled merchandise on the road, and some settled in China, where Sogdian tombs have been found. Their coffins were decorated with Sogdian musical instruments – more so than Chinese ones. Their fast dance (the Sogdian whirl) was beloved by the Chinese, and is often depicted on Chinese images.

Next, the concert moves west to Iran – and half a millennium closer to our time. Modes or scales incorporate quarter-tones in distinctive fashion. Al-Farabi was a great Islamic theorist, whose voluminous treatises offer a major source on early Arabic music.

Finally, the journey goes to Castille, León and Galicia, three provinces of Northern Spain. King Alfonso X ruled them and is said to have composed 420 Cantigas, with words that praise the Holy Virgin. The King also published a book, Libro de los juegos, which shows instruments and board games. Many chess games are shown accompanied by musical instruments. One is an Angular Harp, played by a Spanish Moor. It is similar to the ancient Asian harp played in China on today’s program. However, it differs greatly from the Western harp, which has a pillar.


Tomoko Sugawara, Kugo

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Tomoko Sugawara began playing the Irish Harp at twelve, added the Concert Harp at sixteen, and graduated in harp at Tokyo University of the Arts. Since 1991 she plays the ancient Asian harp kugo, which arose in 1900 BCE in Iran and migrated via the Silk Road to the Far East during the early first millennium CE. After moving to NYC, Sugawara also learned Early European harp, Gothic and Baroque harp. She leads Eurasia Consort, her ensemble playing Silk Road music. She has received awards from the Japan Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, and the Dunhuang Foundation,among others. She has given solo recitals on the kugo at major international venues such as The World Music Institute (NYC), and World Harp Congresses (trice: Prague, Amsterdam, and Vancouver), The Early Music Guild of Seattle, The British Museum, Central China Conservatory of Music (Beijing), The Symposium on Historical Harps (Berlin), and Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She has given recitals at many US Universities: Columbia, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Illinois, Indiana, Pittsburgh, and UC Berkeley. She has led her ensemble, Eurasia Consort, at The World Music Institute. In 2019 she served as researcher at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Her project was the revival of Tang Dynasty music. https://www.kugoharp.com

Gamin, Piri

Gamin is master a practitioner of the piri, taepyongso (double reed instruments), and saenghwang (reed mouth organ). Currently, as a yisuja(designated master) of the Important Intangible Cultural Asset No.46 for piri court music and Daechita, she strives to both preserve and enhance traditional Korean music. At Seoul National University and as a member and assistant principal player of the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra, Gamin has used her virtuosity to perform authentic jeongak (classical court music) and sinawi (shaman ritual music), as well as new compositions for her instruments.

Since leaving orchestral work behind eight years ago, gamin has taken these skills in unexpected directions, using her piri and taepyeongso (Korean oboes), and saengwhang (mouth organ) to pursue contemporary sounds and reach new audiences. https://gamin-music.com

gamin is…”a true pioneer and innovator, leading these instruments in exciting new directions” — Ralph Samuelson (senior advisor of ACC_Asian Cultural Council)

“gamin appears virtually unlimited as to the kinds of sounds she can get out of her instrument!” — Anthony Paul De, Ritis (composer, professor of Northeastern University)

Rex Benincasa, Percussion

Rex BenincasaHe has been a freelancing drummer and world music percussion specialist in New York since 1978. Along with hundreds of television/radio soundtracks and commercial recordings, he has performed with dozens of American ensembles. Benincasa has played many show scores for all kinds of productions. His most recent Broadway appearances have been with shows like: Fosse, The Full Monty, Flower Drum Song, Man Of LaMancha, Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, All Shook Up, Hairspray, The Color Purple, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Shrek, In The Heights, Billy Elliot, and Peter And The Starcatcher. As you see, Rex likes all kinds of music. https://musikiwest.org/staff-member/rex-benincasa/

Adem Birson, Oud

Adem BirsonA performer of the oud and a scholar of both Western and Turkish classical music, Dr. Birson completed his doctoral studies in musicology at Cornell University (2015) and became the Director of the Conservatory at Ipek University, in Ankara, Turkey. He currently serves on the music theory faculty at Hofstra University, in Long Island, New York. He is a student of several Turkish oud virtuosi, and has frequently played on Turkish Radio and Television. He has performed throughout the United States and Turkey and is the founder/director of the Classical Turkish Music Ensemble and the Turkish Music Collective. As a scholar, he has published in several academic US journals. https://www.hofstra.edu/faculty/fac_profiles.cfm?id=6746&t=/Academics/Colleges/HCLAS/MUSIC/


Kaeshi ChaiKAESHI CHAI is a NYC-based performer, theatrical director, teacher trainer, and award winning designer. She is the co-founder of Bellyqueen, a professional dance company and school, and is also co-founder of PURE (Public Urban Ritual Experiment), a global community focused on healing and social change through dance and music. Kaeshi has extensive training in contemporary dance, physical theatre and Silk Road dances spanning the Middle East to China. She has taught or performed in 47 states and 38 countries.

She is an alumna member of the Bellydance Superstars, Jillina’s Bellydance Evolution and Kenji William’s Bella Gaia.

From 2009-2016 she directed, co-choreographed, and toured the theatrical dance show Journey Along the Silk Road throughout the US, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Australia and Italy.

Since 2007 she has produced and curated Djam NYC, a weekly live show in which dancers and musicians can create and play together.

Current projects include Ocean Stories, a performance integrating art and science to create more environmental awareness, and Creative Labs in which participants conceptualize, choreograph and mount full-length theatrical dance shows in 3-4 days. https://www.kaeshi.com


Now in its third year, CROSSING BOUNDARIES is a performance series devoted to creating unforgettable live art experiences that dissolve boundaries between performers and audiences, traditional and new music, and the local and the global, bringing people together and promoting the awareness that we each possess a limitless creativity inside us. CROSSING BOUNDARIES is produced by CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing), a healing and arts center founded in 2004 by artists Yasuko Kasaki and Christopher Pelham and located in NYC. https://www.crsny.org

The 2020 season of CROSSING BOUNDARIES is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by LMCC. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

NYC Cultural Affairs


November 15, 2020 @ 1:00 pm EST
November 23, 2020 @ 3:00 am EST
$10 – $30
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CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing)
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