The awards draw on the inspirational work of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, which was originally created to revive the traditional musics of Central Asia.
We all know that music is political, but in Lisbon this week it’s asserting that truth in a uniquely benign way, thanks to a visionary scheme headed by the Aga Khan. Simultaneously accepting Portuguese citizenship – thus making a significant political point – this quietly charismatic leader of the world-wide Ismaili community is also launching a biennial series of music awards. Impeccably organised and presented, they are bringing a much-needed injection of integrity to the commercially contaminated realm of “world-music”.
They are open to all musicians from countries with a significant Muslim population, but no religious groups are excluded. As the Aga Khan rightly observes, a propos the musical prohibition often claimed to exist in the Qur’an: “’Muslim’ and ‘music’ are words not often associated together in the public mind, but they should be.”
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