The Silk Road's Chicago Detour

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 2, 2006 1:14PM

silklogo.jpgWhat do you get when one of the world’s most celebrated cellists and one of the world’s most entertaining city governments join forces? Answer: a year-long celebration driven by a truly remarkable cultural exchange. Named for a network of routes from Rome to Japan traversed by explorers for over a millennium, Silk Road Chicago is our hometown showcase of art, music, theater, dance, and delectable dishes from half a world away. As anxiety persists over globalization and immigration issues, we need to be reminded that our red-blooded ‘western’ culture routinely appropriates Oriental rug patterns, Indian spices, and African rhythms.

Fascinated with and prolific in a collage of international musical styles, well-traveled cellist and classical music ambassador Yo Yo Ma, along with a legion of local and imported talent, share a heap of ideas, religions and cultures through next June. The Department of Cultural Affairs is a lead collaborator, so the festival largely gravitates around the Cultural Center, Millennium and Grant Parks, Symphony Center, and the “Silk Road Oasis,” also known as the Chicago Tourism Building, which will be a gathering place for artists to share Eurasian cultural traditions with locals and visitors as well as the site of free Friday night concerts and regular screen printing and poster demonstrations.

We won’t get a chance to see the legendary Mr. Ma until his June 26 appearance in Millennium Park. Tonight, Katerina’s hosts a late-night Greek Blues session. Saturday, the Chicago Neighborhood Tours saunter through Devon Avenue’s Indo-American corridor in search of cultural understanding and quality sag paneer. Sunday afternoon, the Silk Road Theatre Project’s staged reading series begins, and that night, Iranian singer Rojan brings Sufi music to the northwest side. Next Tuesday, Haydn’s gypsy-inspired pieces kick off the free Rush Hour classical concert series at St. James Cathedral. Leafing through the rest of the event calendar could easily eat up your afternoon.


Selected Silk Road Project Venues:
Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph
Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, N. Michigan Avenue & E. Washington St.
“Silk Road Oasis”, 72 W. Randolph
Katerina’s, 1920 W. Irving Park
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan
St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron
Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington
Northeastern Illinois University, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr