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Mondavi Center Presents

Silkroad Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens

American Railroad

The Silkroad Ensemble performing on stage with various different instruments in front of a purple background.
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Silkroad’s newest initiative, American Railroad, illuminates the impact of African American, Chinese, Irish and Native American communities on the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad and America’s Westward Expansion.

The railroad was to North America what the Silk Road was to China, the Far East and Europe. These cultural intersections reveal a common thread despite their varied origins and remind us of the intricately rich American story.

The tour program includes three new commissions by jazz artist Cécile McLorin Salvant, native musician and visual artist Suzanne Kite, and Silkroad artist and renowned pipa player Wu Man, as well as re-envisioned arrangements by Rhiannon Giddens and fellow Silkroad artists Haruka Fujii and Maeve Gilchrist.

Founded by Yo-Yo Ma, and now under the leadership of Rhiannon Giddens, the 20+ member Silkroad Ensemble works to inspire collaboration in innovative ways that add more equity and justice into the world through the power of the arts.



Run Time: 1hr and 30min plus a 20min intermission.

The American Railroad project has been years in the making, and the program we’ve created for our first tour is only the beginning. In it, we shed light on those who have been erased or overlooked throughout American history and merge with it Silkroad’s unique ability to amplify voices from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures. The result is a tapestry of stories, traditions, and musics that have shaped our multifaceted cultural identity, and that must be heard and recognized. I hope audiences in the D.C. area and across California will leave these performances with a clearer sense of where we come from, how we got here, what is cost us – and that we collectively reflect on where we’re headed.

Rhiannon Giddens

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Mondavi Center Presents


Sun, Mar 17, 2024

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