A concert titled, The Art of the Afghan Rubab, took place in partnership with the Asia Society Texas Center, the Aga Khan Music Initiative and the Ismaili Council for the United States. The concert was held on October 11, and featured the Aga Khan Master Musicians, who create music inspired by their own deep roots in the cultures of the Middle East and Mediterranean Basin, South Asia, Central Asia, and China.

Brought together by the Aga Khan Music Initiative to explore how musical innovation can contribute to the revitalization of cultural heritage, the Master Musicians are venerated performers and composer-arrangers who appear on the world’s most prestigious stages, while also serving as preeminent teachers, mentors, and curators.

The concert included musicians, Homayoun Sakhi, master performer on Afghan rubab and composer who brings together Eastern and Western musical languages and instruments; Abbos Kosimov, a disciple of the honored Uzbek doira player and international percussionist; and, special guest Nitin Mitta, of Hyderabad, India, on tabla. Each of these exceptional artists has achieved mastery within a rigorous musical tradition defined by canonical styles, repertoires, pedagogy, and performance techniques. At the same time, they share a belief that tradition can serve as an invaluable compass for an artistic search into new forms of creativity inspired, but not constrained by the past.

The Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) is an interregional music and arts education program with worldwide performance, outreach, mentoring, and artistic production activities. Launched to support talented musicians and music educators working to preserve, transmit and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms. It began its work in Central Asia, subsequently expanding its cultural development activities to include artistic communities and audiences in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. AKMI promotes the revitalization of cultural heritage both as a source of livelihood for musicians and as a means to strengthen pluralism in nations where it is challenged by social, political, and economic constraints. 

The concert was nothing less than inspiring and uplifting, providing the audience with a lens into the blending of musical talents, cultures, and imagination through what felt like a lively and playful conversation between the artists and the audience.

AKMI manages the new Aga Khan Music Awards, which presented its first prizes, totaling $500,000, at a ceremony in Lisbon at the end of March 2019. A final concert there brought together ten laureates, in six categories and from 13 countries, illustrating their diversity and pluralism through music. The Awards were presented by Mawlana Hazar Imam, the President of the Portuguese Republic, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Prince Amyn.