International Conference Music, Art and Spirituality in Central Asia

Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

The Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies has organised an important international conference in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI), CNRS/CETOBAC, Paris, the Department of Philosophy and the Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. For thousands of years the Central Asian area was a crossroads for peoples and cultures characterised by two linguistic groups, Indo-European and Turkic, often associated with two different lifestyles: nomadic and sedentary. Although the Central Asian area now tends to be reduced in geopolitical terms to the  ve republics of the former Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan), it must be stressed that from the cultural point of view the area also embraces the autonomous region of Xinjiang in China, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iran and Azerbaijan. In this extended cultural area the relations between the arts, music and spirituality were a recurrent feature which the conference organisers believe can be usefully explored. 

The many elements include: sung texts in the traditions of classical music (maqām), which were written by major poets in Persian and Chagatai (a Turkic language) and are permeated with allusions and double meanings of a spiritual nature; the dervishes’ “hearing” meetings (samâ’) whose repertoires influenced both art music and secular dance; specific architectural spaces designed for these kinds of meetings and the calligraphy of Koran verses (or art lyrics) covering the walls of the architecture like mute music; and miniature paintings often portraying gatherings with music or musical instruments. Adopting the typically intercultural approach of the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies, scholars from all over the world will examine individual case studies in which the arts, music and spirituality in the Central Asian area are interrelated. Moreover, it is highly significant that the conference takes place in Venice, for centuries a terminal on the caravan routes which left for and arrived from that distant world, then so very close.  e conference i s coordinated by Anna Contadini, Giovanni De Zorzi, Rachel Harris and Alexandre Papas.

Download the conference programme

On Saturday 31 October at 6 pm there will be a concert by the Ensemble Badakhshan, from Pamir region, Tagjikistan.

More information at: musica.comparata@cini.it | T. 041 2710357