In commemoration of the precious nights of Ramadan and the advent of Eid ul-Fitr, mystical harmonies from Central Asia and classical melodies of the Occident were performed before a distinguished audience at London’s prestigious Barbican Hall.

Barbican Hall – London's hub of arts and culture – hosted the Kronos Quartet and the Alim Qasimov Ensemble as part of its Ramadan Nights festival. A full house welcomed the musicians, and Prince Hussain was among honoured guests.

The first half of the concert showcased the independent talents of Kronos and the Qasimov Ensemble, while the second half celebrated their combined vision. Their unique and magical sound blurred the usual boundaries of musical composition.

While retaining their individual and distinct styles, the Ensemble and the Quartet combined and complemented each other with brilliance. The Guardian newspaper noted that when the Kronos Quartet joined in, the combination was exquisite: “Their sensitive and respectful arrangements augmented the ancient Asian instruments, but still left space for the all-important vocals.”

A short video clip provided insight into how the pieces came to fruition and demonstrated the joy and passion shared by the musicians from early on. The novel collaboration was made possible by the partnership of the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (AKMICA) and the Kronos Quartet.

Established in 2000 under the aegis of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture by Mawlana Hazar Imam, AKMICA supports the efforts of Central Asian musicians and communities to sustain, further develop and transmit musical traditions that are a vital part of their cultural heritage. Music has, over the decades, served as a means of expressing identity, preserving culture and spiritual beliefs in times of political and economic instability in the Central Asian region.

Each piece exhibited its own personality, varying in tempo, tone and instrumental style. Song titles such as Your eyebrows are like a hunting bow and O Mother, the handsome man tortures me drew smiles from the audience members. The instrumentals were interspersed with the powerful and melodic voices of Alim Qasimov and his daughter Fargana.

Throughout the evening, the audience was engaged in every musical transition, aware that they were hearing something new and quite extraordinary. At the close of the performance, they gave the musicians a standing ovation.