The second cycle of the Aga Khan Music Awards will be held later this year, to acknowledge the exceptionally creative artists and musicians who have displayed innovation in their craft during the past two world-changing years.

Throughout the history of Muslim societies, arts and music have played an essential role as a source of spiritual enlightenment, moral inspiration, and social cohesion. The elegant sounds of traditional instruments, the allure of poetic lyrics, and the depth of human vocals have, for many centuries, reflected the Islamic tradition.

"The cultural heritage of Islam has long embraced musical language as an elemental expression of human spirituality,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam at the inaugural Aga Khan Music Awards ceremony in 2019.

“Listening to music, practising music, sharing music, performing music - have long been an intimate part of life for Muslim communities across the world, as has the chanting of devotional and historical or epic texts.”

The Aga Khan Music Awards were established by Mawlana Hazar Imam in 2018 to foster the development of living musical heritage in societies and disseminate it internationally through collaborations with creative musicians, artists, educators, and arts presenters.

These triennial awards are organised by the Aga Khan Music Programme, an endeavour of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. They aim to strengthen tolerance and pluralism by recognising and supporting talent worldwide, and promoting different musical genres — the constellation of devotional music and poetry, indigenous classical music, traditional folk music, and tradition-inspired contemporary music — that have flourished in cultures shaped by Islam.

At the very first Aga Khan Music Awards ceremony held in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 2019, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke about the remarkable diversity within the realm of Muslim music.

“It comes in many styles, forms and classical repertoires. It includes simple folk melodies, contemplative, mystical music and driving dance rhythms; and it reflects the immense diversity of different Muslim cultures themselves, including musical traditions that have been carefully cultivated over the centuries within the Ismaili community,” he said.

“The launch of the second Awards cycle comes at an auspicious moment,” said Fairouz Nishanova, director of the Aga Khan Music Programme.

“Over the last two world-changing years, musicians have learned to innovate in the ways they develop, express, and disseminate artistic creativity, and we are excited to work with such a distinguished group of nominators to identify emerging talent, new directions, and significant achievement in a broad range of musical styles and languages.”

The award winners will pursue professional development opportunities supported by special grants, including commissions for creating new works, contracts for recordings and artist management, support for pilot education initiatives, technical or curatorial consultancies for music archiving and preservation, and dissemination projects.

With an abundant talent spread across the world, these awards recognise exceptionally creative artists and musicians and render much-deserved international recognition and exposure.

From young school children to aspiring young professionals, venerated master musicians, and laureates of the Aga Khan Music Awards, individual artists, ensembles, and arts communities are offered opportunities to create and perform music in the network of the Aga Khan Music Programme.

Look out for the shortlist of finalists, to be announced later this year - the second cycle of the Aga Khan Music Awards promises to be an occasion not to miss!