"A roving musical laboratory without walls."

Boston Globe

New Music
Silkroad Ensemble
Heroes Take Their Stands
A Cal Performances Co-commission

Ahmad Sadri, creator
Colin Jacobsen and Kayhan Kalhor, music directors

Cal Performances welcomes the return of the Silkroad Ensemble with Heroes Take Their Stands, an ambitious multimedia commissioning project that unpacks the magnitude of being fearlessly human in the face of incompatible obligations.

For the project, which was conceived by folklorist and sociologist Ahmad Sadri, five composers and as many collaborators from diverse traditions have created new works that explore the stories of five heroic figures across time and cultures, with subjects ranging from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to Elektra from Greek mythology, to Arjuna from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, to Dou E's fable from the Yuan Dynasty, to the Persian epic tale of Siavosh. Each work was developed as part of a conversation between composer and collaborator, resulting in a multi-part, theatrical performance that brings together more than one dozen live instrumentalists with dance, video, animation, and pre-recorded music.

The artistic creators include: Pauchi Sasaki and Nomi Sasaki; Kaoru Watanabe and Wu Man; Colin Jacobsen and Aparna Ramaswamy; Jason Moran and Lucy Raven; and Kayhan Kalhor and Hamid Rahmanian.

Heroes creator Ahmad Sadri has said: "Human societies have used folklore and tradition as means of sharing, reinforcing, and perpetuating values, and conveying deeply held moral and ethical norms. The protagonists we encounter in this suite of five performances were not born heroes. None of them are superior to humankind, nor are they deities or superheroes. They are normal individuals who choose to act or react in ways that spare others' lives or right profound injustices—and their acts offer enduring inspiration for us all. The decisions they make at these crucial moments in their lives—to do the right thing, to do the just thing, regardless of the personal consequences—is what makes them heroes. Their examples demonstrate that each of us is born with a capacity for heroism—and that it is up to each of us to choose to act, to take our stand.

"I have always felt that the sublime essence and grandeur of the heroic gesture cannot be truly captured in words alone. This was my inspiration for bringing these stories to Silkroad."

Like all of Silkroad's work, Heroes Take Their Stands explores the habits fundamental to living in a democratic society and an inclusive world: curiosity, empathy, and collaboration.


Elektra [The Oresteia, 5th century BCE]
and WU MAN
June Snow [The Stand of Dou E, 13th century]
Arjuna's Revelation [The Bhagavad Gita, 2nd century BCE]

Moderato 400 [Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Holt Street Baptist Church, 1955]

The Prince of Sorrows [The Stand of Siavosh from The Shahnameh, 10th century]


Related Events

Fri, May 3, 2019, 5:15pm
Morrison Room, Doe Library
"Heroes Take Their Stands": Commentary. As part of its annual Silk Road Conference, and in conjunction with the Silkroad Ensemble's May 3 performance, the UC Berkeley Tang Center for Silk Road Studies presents a panel discussion with Heroes Take Their Stands creator Ahmad Sadri and UC Berkeley scholar Soroor Ghanimati and Duncan MacRae. Participation is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit, ieas.berkeley.edu/tcsrs/events.html

Major support for public programs provided by Bank of America.

Donor Benefits

Friends Appreciation Concert and Post-Performance Reception with the Silkroad Ensemble
Fri, May 3
Zellerbach Hall
(Donors of $225+)
In appreciation of your support, we invite current members to the Friends Appreciation Concert and Post-Performance Reception. Join us for the concert, and then stay to enjoy light bites, drinks, and conversation with members of the Silkroad Ensemble on the Mezzanine.

Donors who renew or join with a gift of $225 or more are offered up to 2 tickets to the concert and reception.

Donors of $750 or more are eligible to receive up to 4 tickets to the concert and reception.

Donors of $100 or more are invited to join us for the reception.

RSVP to Jamie McClave at social@calperformances.org or 510.642.8635

Membership benefits like these are our way of thanking our supporters for their much needed contributions. To find out how you can become a Donor, please call 510.643.8783 or visit our Support section.

Mt. Beautiful wines generously donated by Leigh Teece in appreciation of Cal Performances' education outreach.

Donor Parking
As a service to our donors at the $750 level and above, we offer the opportunity to reserve parking for our performances. Reserve parking online 5 business days or more in advance of the performance, or by contacting Cal Performances' Development Department at 510.642.8653 or email donate@calperformances.org.

View my current parking benefits

Additional information regarding donor parking benefits can be found on our Donor Services/Parking page.

Program Notes

Program notes are available online. [PDF]