Phoenix by Kevork Mourad

Phoenix Rising

Digital Program
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Artistic Directors’ Welcome

From Diane Paulus

A.R.T. Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director

Welcome to Phoenix Rising. This production is a musical celebration of rebirth by the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble. Inspired by the exchange of ideas and traditions along the historical Silk Road, cellist (and Harvard alum) Yo-Yo Ma established this extraordinary ensemble in 1998 as a laboratory for intercultural collaboration. Since then, the Ensemble has traveled the globe, convening musicians from a wide range of traditions to make music and offer high-quality arts education—a living metaphor for the benefits of a more connected world. After performances at OBERON in 2017, 2018, and 2020, Silkroad is performing at the Loeb Drama Center for the first time with this production.

Affiliated with Harvard since 2005, Silkroad welcomed Rhiannon Giddens as its new Artistic Director in July 2020. Giddens is an acclaimed singer, banjoist, and fiddle player: her work has been celebrated with a MacArthur Fellowship Foundation, a Grammy Award, and numerous other honors. A co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops as well as a renowned solo artist, Rhiannon works to excavate the histories embedded in music from the US and around the world. Boston-area audiences may have seen her most recently in concert with Global Arts Live at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in October 2019 where, in collaboration with Francesco Turrisi, she explored the rhythms and techniques linking musical traditions from the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. It is a pleasure to welcome her to Cambridge and to the stage of the A.R.T. in her new role as Silkroad’s Artistic Director (and as a featured artist in this program).

As we re-emerge from such a long period of isolation and physical distancing, Phoenix Rising is a special opportunity to renew our connections with one another and the wider world. As an invitation to grieve, and as a clarion call asking us to reimagine a more peaceful and just world, this production exemplifies the unique power of the arts to convene us for shared experiences of empathy and imagination.

Thank you so much for joining us, and for doing your part to help the arts reopen safely.

—Diane Paulus

From Rhiannon Giddens

Artistic Director, Silkroad

From its ancient Greek origins to its indigenous roots in America, the phoenix is a global symbol for rebirth and renewal. Known for its fiery purple, orange, and gold feathers and crimson red breast, this mythical bird perishes in flames after setting itself on fire and then rises from the ashes after being born anew. We, as Silkroad, have been undergoing a transformation in our own right that will propel us to new heights of leveraging our music to create a more hopeful and inclusive world.

As we prepare to emerge from multiple pandemics that have caused devastating loss, we vision a peaceful and just future while still honoring the central tenets of our past; we offer to you Phoenix Rising: a collective grieving song and clarion call, uniting audiences through varied cultural experiences and challenging each of us to reflect on, celebrate, and activate our unique talents to effect change.

This is the first of many new and exciting projects from Silkroad, and I cannot wait to share it with you. Together we rise and fall, speaking our truths, honoring our forgotten histories, and looking to our collective future as we investigate this new chapter and uncover the world within American music.

—Rhiannon Giddens

American Repertory Theater
Silkroad Ensemble’s


Artistic Director

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens

Artistic Director

Rhiannon Giddens

Grammy Award-winning musician and vocalist Rhiannon Giddens has pursued a lifelong quest to shine light on under-recognized voices, genres, and musical traditions. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and she has been nominated for six additional Grammys for her work as a soloist and collaborator. As a performer, composer, and cross-cultural connector, she has helped to change the understanding of both American and world music. Giddens has performed with the Silkroad Ensemble numerous times, but her appearance with them this fall at the Loeb Drama Center will be her first since succeeding Yo-Yo Ma as Artistic Director. Along with Silkroad’s artists, Giddens has shaped a program that will serve to connect the ever-evolving organization and its Ensemble with A.R.T. audiences—even in this introspective and challenging time.

View full biography

Featuring Silkroad Artists


Shawn Conley


Sandeep Das


Nora Fischer


Haruka Fuji

Banjo, Voice

Rhiannon Giddens

Celtic Harp

Maeve Gilchrist


Mario Gotoh


Joseph Gramley


Colin Jacobsen


Kayhan Kalhor


Wu Man

Visual Art

Kevork Mourad


Karen Ouzounian


Edward Pérez


Shane Shanahan


Mazz Swift


Preeti Vasudevan

Japanese flute, percussion

Kaoru Watanabe


Reylon Yount

This program was developed and curated with the support of Silkroad’s Artists’ Committee: Haruka Fujii, Joseph Gramley, Karen Ouzounian, Mazz Swift, & Michi Wiancko.

Title artwork: Illustration by Kevork Mourad, Commissioned by Silkroad for Phoenix Rising, 2021

Additional production support of Phoenix Rising is provided by Bank of America.

First performance at the Loeb Drama Center on November 19, 2021

American Repertory Theater 2021/22 Programming support is provided by Harvard University, The Bob and Alison Murchison New Work Development Fund, The Shubert Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Bank of America, The Barr Foundation, Barton & Guestier, Meyer Sound, and JetBlue.

A.R.T. 2021/22 Programming is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which receives support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A.R.T. 2021/22 Programming is dedicated to the memory of Karen Mueller in recognition of her many contributions to the theater.

Runtime: 90 minutes with no intermission


Production Crew


Noelle Panepento

Assistant Lighting Director

Amina Alexander

Audio & Mixing Engineer

Frank Bianco

Audio Engineer

Dan Bora

Audio Engineer

Francesca Cecala

Production Manager & Lighting Director

Aaron Copp

Second Monitor Engineer

Ryan Kelly

Stage Manager

Ashley Martin

Monitor Engineer

Justin Tamplin

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the following supporters of Silkroad for helping to make Phoenix Rising possible:

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Alice L. Walton Foundation
Barr Foundation
The MAP Fund
Boris Dolgonos
FreshGrass Foundation
The Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Foundation
LaVon Kellner & Thomas Roush
Diann Kim
Lori Samuels

About Silkroad Ensemble

Yo-Yo Ma conceived Silkroad in 1998, recognizing the historical Silk Road as a model for radical cultural collaboration—for the exchange of ideas, tradition, and innovation across borders. In an innovative experiment, he brought together musicians from the lands of the Silk Road to co-create a musical language founded in difference, thus creating the foundation of Silkroad: both a touring ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from all over the globe and a social-impact organization working to make a positive impact across borders through the arts. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, Silkroad leads social impact initiatives and educational programming alongside the creation of new music by the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble. For more information, please visit

Gibson Dunn


Adjustments to the program will be announced from the stage.

About the Program

As a social-impact organization and home to a Grammy Award-winning musical ensemble, Silkroad works to inspire collaboration in innovative ways that add more equity and justice into the world through the power of the arts. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, Silkroad reaches new heights through a commitment to new music, a re-sparked mission towards cultural collaboration, and a reinvigorated focus to high-quality arts education that both reflects its mission and the times in which we live.

Phoenix Rising takes a cross-section of Silkroad’s award-winning compositions and arrangements and re-imagines them for today. Keeping an eye on the past, Silkroad and Giddens have also collaborated on new works that coalesce her unique worldview with the Ensemble’s collective experience during the pandemic. As such, Phoenix Rising will unveil four major new commissions by an amazing amalgamation of Silkroad artists: Shawn Conley (premieres in 2022), Sandeep Das, Maeve Gilchrist, and Kaoru Watanabe (premieres in 2022). The program will also include new arrangements by Rhiannon Giddens, Colin Jacobsen, Edward Pérez, and Mazz Swift.


O, Death — Traditional, arr. by Rhiannon Giddens**

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Omoide (Memories) —  Tsunekichi Suzuki, arr. by Rhiannon Giddens**

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Ascending Bird — Traditional, arr. by Colin Jacobsen and Siamak Aghaei**

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The Internal Chamber, Pt. I — Nora Fisher, Kevork Mourad, Preeti Vasudevan*

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Silent City — Kayhan Kalhor, arr. by Ljova

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¡Chayraq! — Gabriela Lena Frank

  1. Zapatos de Chincha (Shoes of Chincha)
  2. Canto de Lloras (Crying Song)
  3. Juegos (Games)

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And the Walls Became the World All Around — Edward Pérez***

  1. “An Ocean Tumbled By”
  2. “Let the Wild Rumpus Start”

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The Internal Chamber, Pt. II — Nora Fisher, Kevork Mourad, Preeti Vasudevan*


Goin’ Home (from the Grammy Award-winning album, Sing Me Home) —  Antonin Dvořák, arr. by Mazz Swift**

Ekla Cholo Re — Sandeep Das, Lyrics by Rabindranath Tagore*

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Cut the Rug — David Bruce, arr. by Edward Pérez**

  1. Move the Earth
  2. Wake the Dead

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*World Premiere, Commissioned by Silkroad for Phoenix Rising, 2021
**New Arrangement
, Commissioned by Silkroad for Phoenix Rising, 2021
***World Premiere, Commissioned by Silkroad

Silkroad Connect

Learn more about how Silkroad is building bridges toward and equitable, hopeful, and just world through our new educational pilot program, Silkroad Connect.

Silkroad Connect, launched in fall 2021, is a three-year pilot program with middle school classrooms in under-resourced districts across the country that uses music and storytelling from Silkroad’s American Railroad initiative to explore the social and artistic history of the cultures that built or were adversely impacted by the Transcontinental Railroad, including African-Americans, Chinese, Irish, and Native Americans, whose ways of life were forever altered by its arrival.

This innovative program includes an artist-in-residency program that brings the all-star artists of Silkroad to our partner schools; intensive, year-long professional development for teachers, including tuition-free participation in a summer educator conference organized in conjunction with our partners at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and a culminating performance at each school. Through this program, Silkroad Connect offers students the opportunity to learn firsthand from Silkroad musicians, participate in the process of creative development, and examine how music and storytelling can illuminate hidden histories and amplify the voices and contributions of marginalized communities. Participating schools are located in Boston, MA; Stockton, CA; Castroville, CA; Broward County, FL; Standing Rock, ND; and Lame Deer, MT.

Donor support makes programs like Silkroad Connect possible. Learn more and get involved in Silkroad’s efforts to create a more equitable, hopeful, and just world: or 617.496.1828.

Staff, Boards, & Donors

Production Overhire

Electricians: Kevin Barnett, Michaela Bocchino, Anna Brevetti, Ryan Lemay
Follow Spot Operators: Swati Agrawal, Conor O’Brien
Sound Technician: Erich Hagan
Stage Crew: Bernadette Benoit
Stage Load-In Crew: Caitlyn Buja, Errick Jersey, Bill O’Donnell, Crispin Trubiano