In December 2016, nineteen artists were hand-picked from around the world to work on a unique collaborative musical piece in honour of the Aga Khan’s eightieth birthday. (The Aga Khan, Prince Shah Karim Al-Husseini, is the imam or spiritual leader of 25 million Ismaili Muslims around the world and a widely respected global leader). The resulting piece was collaboratively composed over eight days in Aiglemont, France and performed live at the Aga Khan’s birthday celebration. It was also broadcast to 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world.
I was one of the artists invited to work on this collaboration and I played a lead role in composing and arranging the piece. Other artists came from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Canada, Tajikistan and Germany. One of the Aga Khan’s strongest commitments is to promoting pluralism and the piece was intended to celebrate this commitment. It was a challenge to showcase such a diverse array of instruments and musical styles as a unified voice, but I am proud of what we achieved. It was an honour to be with such talented and wonderful musicians and to have the opportunity to work together to contribute to this momentous occasion.