Rhiannon Giddens named Artistic Director of Silkroad

The Boston-based Silkroad organization dubs itself “both a touring ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from all over the globe, and a social impact organization working to make a positive impact across borders through the arts”.

Founded by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, Silkroad’s Board of Directors is today chaired by Reservoir founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi.

This week, Khosrowshahi announced that celebrated singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens had been appointed the next Artistic Director of Silkroad.

“On behalf of the Silkroad Board of Directors, we are thrilled to officially welcome Rhiannon Giddens to the Silkroad family,” stated Khosrowshahi.

“As we look into the future, we feel certain to have found the ideal visionary to enhance Yo-Yo Ma’s indelible legacy and lead us to new heights. We greatly admire Rhiannon’s innovative spirit and look forward to seeing how she mines American and global traditions to effect an artistic impact that is relevant to our times.”

According to Silkroad: “Giddens’ incredible mastery at excavating the music of America’s past, knowledge of history and diverse cultures, and ability to bring people together from all walks of life, make her perfectly suited for the Artistic Director position.”

“Rhiannon is a source of inspiration for all of us,” said Kathy Fletcher, Executive Director of Silkroad. “In addition to her enormous musical talent, she fosters an immense social consciousness and creates unity through her art. These are goals for which we consistently strive in our own performances and education initiatives. I am eager to join forces with Rhiannon to expand the social impact mission that is so crucial to Silkroad, as well as to design and present programs that will delight our audiences in the United States and abroad.”

Giddens has been a collaborator of Silkroad since 2016, having performed as a special guest with the Silkroad Ensemble and on the Grammy Award-winning album, Sing Me Home.

Most recently, she was featured in Home Sessions—a series launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—alongside Francesco Turrisi.

In her new role, Giddens will oversee and conceive artistic programs that support Silkroad’s mission of “engaging difference and sparking radical cultural collaboration and passion-driven learning for a more hopeful and inclusive world”.

“My keenest desire for Silkroad is a sharpening and reinterpretation of what it means for the ‘right now.’ That it becomes obvious to all that Silkroad is as American as it is possible to get in spirit, even as many of the players are from elsewhere; for what is more American than the gathering of influences from disparate areas of the globe to create something unique and fantastic,” commented Giddens.

“I am thankful to the Board, staff, and musicians for this opportunity to magnify the incredible work that they’re doing into an even greater ability to effect change.”

Silkroad founder and acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma said: “Rhiannon is an extraordinary human being and musician. She lives Silkroad’s values, at once rooted in history and its many musics, and is an advocate for the contemporary voices that can move us to work together for a better world. I look forward to joining Rhiannon and our Silkroad colleagues as we continue this journey together.”

Following Yo-Yo Ma’s stewardship of Silkroad from 2000-2017, Nicholas Cords, Jeffrey Beecher, and Shane Shanahan – all long-standing Silkroad artists – led the organization in a coartistic direction model from 2017-2020 (Beecher from 2017-2019). All three will continue to serve Silkroad as artists and project leaders going forward.Music Business Worldwide