There's no way to precisely define the Silk Road Ensemble, because when this group of prodigiously talented young musicians gets together, anything goes. Formed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma as an outgrowth of the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the promotion and understanding of music and ideas from around the globe, the ensemble consists of 60 virtuosi performing compositions based on Hindu creation myths, Chinese warrior legends, Arab laments and basically anything that comes under the classification of the culturally exotic. They've wowed sold-out audiences with inventive works like Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato's Caronte, based on the Greek myth of Charon, the boatman on the underworld's River Styx; Wine Madness, about a third-century Chinese poet who goes on a 60-day drunk to avoid conscription in the Imperial Army; and Lebanese composer Rabih Abou-Kahli's deliriously rhythmic Arabian Waltz, in which drums, tambourines, kamanchis, ouds, erhus, violins and cellos passionately converse in a driving interplay of syncopation that miraculously still adds up to your basic three-quarter time. This week, The Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma perform traditional and original compositions from more than 20 countries at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Mon., April 4, 8 p.m., 2011