Later this month, Mawlana Hazar Imam will preside over the inaugural Aga Khan Music Awards ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal.

Taking place from 29-31 March at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Aga Khan Music Awards will feature three days of concerts and events honouring the laureates in the six domains being recognised by the Award.

While announcing the awards in March 2018, Hazar Imam said, “The Aga Khan Music Awards will aspire to fill a unique cultural role.”

When asked why culture, particularly music, is a priority for him during a recent interview in La Cohorte, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “I am interested in music because we are trying to broaden the international reach of Third World cultures. If we can make them known and appreciated in the West, we can bring them stability as well as knowledge about the cultures in these countries. And often there are connections that are extraordinary, especially, for example, in ‘devotional’ music.”

The awards, which come with US$ 500,000 in prizes, recognise exceptional creativity, promise, and enterprise in music performance, creation, education, preservation and revitalisation in societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence.

This year’s award winners include artists from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Mali, Iran and Tajikistan. Notably Iranian vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, who is widely considered the foremost living exponent of Persian classical music, will receive the Patron’s Award from Mawlana Hazar Imam. One of the projects in the domain of Preservation, Revitalisation and Dissemination is the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Established in 1990 by renowned Tajik actor and musician Gurminj Zavkibekov (1929-2003) to showcase an extensive private collection of musical instruments from his native Badakhshan, the museum has helped to raise the international profile of Tajikistan’s rich musical heritage, and especially that of the Ismailis of the Pamir Mountains. A full list of winners is available here.

A unique logo for the Aga Khan Music Awards has been designed in collaboration with master calligrapher Samir Sayegh. The design is comprised of six triangles, each representing an Arabic word rendered in Kufic script. Together, they form a hexagonal shape containing the words (clockwise from left) Sharq (East), Wahi (Inspiration), Taa’leem (Teaching), Nafs (Soul), Samaa’ (Listening), and Zaman (Time).

The 2019 Aga Khan Music Awards will open with a concert on Friday 29 March featuring the Gulbenkian Orchestra with Master Musicians of the Aga Khan Music Initiative. This concert will be webcast live starting at 9 PM (GMT). On Sunday 31 March, each of the Laureates will perform at a special Awards Ceremony after which Mawlana Hazar Imam will present them their awards. This event will also be webcast live starting at 5 PM (GMT+1). Both webcasts will be available on