“Portugal is a shining example of a pluralistic society united while remaining conscious of its diversity, historical past and culture, and it is thus fitting that the first Awards and this first ceremony along with the related concerts and events should take place here…..I am grateful indeed to the Government of Portugal for its support and to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for providing us their superb facilities for what I think is an exceptional occasion….Music is, by definition, an evolutionary art, and musical composition has always evolved. Men have always travelled and have always taken their music with them, modifying and transforming their traditional music as they heard the music of the people they met.” – Prince Amyn Aga Khan, March 29, 2019, Lisbon.

Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Lisbon Ismaili Centre

Aga Khan with Steering Committee and Master Jury of Music Awards at Lisbon Ismaili Centre

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Amyn Muhammad, Prince Hussain, and Prince Aly Muhammad with members of the Master Jury and Steering Committee at Lisbon’s Ismaili Centre after their arrival in Lisbon. The wall in the background is one of two by the Centre’s main entrance that features the 99 Names of Allah. Photo: AKDN/Akbar Hakim.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, arrived in Lisbon on Friday March 29, 2019 to preside over the inaugural edition of the Aga Khan Music Awards which is being hosted over a 3 day period at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum.

The Awards recognize exceptional creativity, promise, and enterprise in music performance, creation, education, preservation and revitalisation in societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence. The Music Awards have been modelled after the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which was initiated in 1977 and is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture.

The Aga Khan Music Awards will seek to strengthen tolerance and pluralism around the world by promoting musical genres and styles that embody music’s traditional role as a source of spiritual enlightenment, moral inspiration, and social cohesion.

Aga Khan Music Awards Commemorative Stamps

Aga Khan Music Awards Commemorative Stamps

Prior to the concert held on 29 March for the Aga Khan Music Awards, the CEO of CTT (Portugal Postal Services) Francisco Lacerda unveiled a special commemorative stamp in honour of the Awards. Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, and Isabel Mota, President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation , and Raul Moreira, Head of Philately at CTT, signed first day covers of the commemorative stamp. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

Watch 2 Videos of First Day Covers Signing Ceremony

1. Introduction to the Signing Ceremony

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2. The Signing Ceremony

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Concert Featuring Gulbenkian Orchestra and Master Musicians

The 3-day free-entry events commenced on Friday March 29th with a concert featuring Gulbenkian Orchestra performing with Master Musicians of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program that began 20 years ago, and which has received support from renowned institutions such as the Smithsonian in Washington DC. 

Aga Khan Music Awards Collage

The Music Awards conclude on Sunday March 31, with the distribution of US$ 500,000 to winners in the form of cash prizes, including commissions for the creation of new works, contracts for recordings and artist management, support for pilot education initiatives, and technical or curatorial consultancies for music archiving, preservation, and dissemination projects. In sharing the large prize, the Laureates will also collaborate with the Aga Khan Music Awards to expand the impact of their work and develop their careers.

Excerpts from speech by Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan

“This happy event is particularly meaningful to me personally, as it represents the actualization of an idea that I first broached to my brother almost two decades ago, when the Aga Khan Trust for Culture was taking its first steps toward the inclusion of music revitalisation in its cultural development portfolio. My idea was to establish a music prize that would aspire toward a level of worldwide visibility and impact in its field analogous to that of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Music has always been an art of special importance to me: Its power of communication is special, enormous and universal; it binds people together and unites them.”

Prince Amyn Aga Khan delivering remarks during concert at Gulbenkian Museum

Prince Amyn Aga Khan delivering his speech during the concert event at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum on March 29, 2019.

“The Aga Khan Music Awards are expected to fill a unique cultural role. Among the world’s many music prizes, none as far as I know currently focuses on the full spectrum of devotional music and poetry, indigenous classical music, traditional folk music, and tradition-inspired contemporary music which has flourished and which we would like to see continue to flourish in cultures shaped by Islam.” 

“At a time when strengthening tolerance and pluralism has become an acute worldwide priority, music is one of the arts which offers a medium for reaching, involving and uniting global audiences by engendering emotions which we all share as human beings. I once said that music is made of dreams and the echo of dreams and I believe mankind shares the same dreams in large measure.”

Aga Khan Museum Awards: Laureates

The Master Jury has already selected laureates in the domains of Music Education (Omnibus Ensemble, Uzbekistan);  Creation (Franghiz AliZadeh, Azerbaijan), Social Inclusion (Badiaa Bouhrizi, Tunisa),  Preservation/Revitalisation/Dissemination  (Farhod Halimov, Uzbekistan and The Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments, Tajikistan), and Distinguished and Enduring Contributions to Music (Oumou Sangaré, Mali, Ballake Sissoko, Mali and Dariush Talai, Iran).

On Saturday March 30, the finalists for the Aga Khan Music Award in Performance category performed for a live audience, which included Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain, and Prince Aly Muhammad.

Prince Amyn, Prince Aly Muhammad and Prince Hussain applauding the Performers

Left: Prince Hussain, and Prince Aly Muhammad applaud the finalists of the Aga Khan Music Awards’ Award in Performance category. Right: Prince Amyn applauds the Master Jury’s announcement of the Laureate of the Aga Khan Music Awards’ Performance category. Photos: AKDN / Antonio Pedrosa.

The Award in Performance is conferred in recognition of high distinction and innovation in the performance of a traditional or tradition-based genre, style, or repertoire.

The Awards Master Jury had selected 14 outstanding finalists from the initial group of nominees, who were invited to visit Lisbon to perform before a live audience. The objective of the performance was to share the musical qualities that distinguish them as leading performers in their respective artistic domains, and that reflect their connection to the musical and cultural heritage of societies in which Muslims have a significant presence.

The 14 finalists hail from a number of countries across the Middle East and Asia, including Iran, Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, India, and Pakistan.

While introducing the finalists, the BBC’s Lopa Kothari spoke about the nuances of live music, saying that “performance is about not just a technical texture, but about the way their music connects with you, with your emotions, your spirituality, and also with your neighbour, and the artist themselves.”

At the conclusion of the final performance, the Master Jury convened to select a winner. 

The winner, Mustafa Said (Egypt), was announced at the Gala Concert and Prize-Giving Ceremony held on Sunday, March 31, 2019. 

Aga Khan Music Awards Seminar

Aga Khan Music Awards Seminar Lisbon Gulbenkian Museum March 31 2019

The Seminar panel was composed of members of the Aga Khan Music Awards Master Jury, Steering Committee, and Secretariat. Photo: AKDN / Akbar Hakim.

Eminent figures in the realm of arts and music came for the penultimate event of the 2019 Aga Khan Music Awards to participate in discussions relating to the concept, vision, and impact of the Awards. The seminar was attended by Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain, and Prince Aly Muhammad.

The panel was composed of members of the Aga Khan Music Awards Master Jury, Steering Committee, and Secretariat, and was moderated by Sir Jonathan Mills, Director of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, who posed questions to panelists relating to each of the themes.

Responding to a question on the objective of the Aga Khan Music Awards, Prince Amyn spoke of multiple purposes, explaining “The first one is to assist and stimulate musicians, both performers and composers, in Muslim cultures and areas that we know.” Prince Amyn continued, “Secondly, to assist the knowledge to go global, so that music can evolve not only locally, but also globally, in the dialogue of cultures. So, the idea is to form a global group of musicians performing and composing, whose music emanates from our traditions.”

The Prize Giving Ceremony for the Aga Khan Music Awards

Aga Khan Music Awards Laureats with His Highness the Aga Khan

His Excellency President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, His Highness the Aga Khan, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, together with Laureates, Finalists, Steering Committee, Master Jury and Secretariat of the Aga Khan Music Awards 2019. The Logo of the Awards forms the backdrop. Photo: AKDN / Akbar Hakim.

The Aga Khan Music Awards concluded with the awarding of US$ 500,000 in prices by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Mawlana Hazar Imam, and Prince Amyn to ten laureates, representing 13 countries around the world. The recipients in different categories were: Performance (Mustafa Said, Egypt); Music Education (Omnibus Ensemble, Uzbekistan);  Creation (Franghiz AliZadeh, Azerbaijan), Social Inclusion (Badiaa Bouhrizi, Tunisa), Preservation/Revitalisation/Dissemination (Farhod Halimov, Uzbekistan AND The Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments, Tajikistan), and Distinguished and Enduring Contributions to Music (Oumou Sangaré, Mali, Ballake Sissoko, Mali AND Dariush Talai, Iran).

A special Patron’s award was also conferred to Mohammad Reza Shajarian for his contributions to music, and sustained social impact within Iran and beyond. The Iranian News Agency (IRNA) said in a news dispatch on the Award that Shajarian has been called ‘Iran’s greatest living maestro of Persian classical music.’

Mawlana Hazar Imam established the Aga Khan Music Awards in 2018 in recognition of his commitment to creative expression. The Awards recognise exceptional creativity, promise, and enterprise in music performance, creation, education, preservation and revitalisation in societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence.

In his remarks, Hazar Imam explained the significance of music in Muslim contexts: “The cultural heritage of Islam has long embraced musical language as an elemental expression of human spirituality. Listening to music, practicing music, sharing music, performing music – have long been an intimate part of life for Muslim communities across the world, as has the chanting of devotional and historical or epic texts,” he said.

Mustafa Said receives the Aga Khan Music Awards in the Performance category in Lisbon on March 31, 2019

Egypt’s Mustafa Said, Laureate of the Performance category is conferred with an Aga Khan Music Award by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Excellency President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Prince Amyn. Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper says that Said, who was born blind, learned to read and write music in braille from an early age before studying at Cairo’s renowned Arabic Oud House and learning western music composition in correspondence with the US-based Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Photo: AKDN / Bruno Colaço.

Remarking on the outstanding artistic talent of the musicians gathered on this occasion, Hazar Imam said, “Here in Lisbon today — and across the world in the months and years to come —  their voices will, we trust, continue to transcend old boundaries of time and place, reminding the world that every individual can respond to art and music, whether it emanates from a different culture or not.”

His Excellency President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa addressed guests gathered at the event prior to awarding the prizes, saying that, “This prize is a start of a long journey together. You and us, thinking of peace in the world, multilateralism, dialogue, a common fight against intolerance, and music is a great way of doing this.”

Date posted: March 30, 2019.
Last updated: April 1, 2019.

Please do not leave this website before visiting Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 140 excellent pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family.

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REFERENCES

Material for this post was compiled from http://www.theismaili.org and http://www.akdn.org.

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