Dr. Shahyar Daneshgar: founder of the Silk Road Ensemble

A native of Tehran, Iran, Shahyar grew up in a music-loving Azerbaijani family. He received his training in the art of singing and drumming in family circles at an early age. His musical training includes the Tehran Conservatory of Music and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He has participated in numerous festivals and concerts in Europe and North American cities since 1975. He holds a doctoral degree in Central Eurasian Studies with an emphasis on the cultures and languages of Central Eurasia and the Middle East. Currently, he is a research associate at the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center and a faculty member at the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University. Shahyar is one of the co-founders of Bloomington’s Lotus World Music and Dance Festival. He was a founding member of the Sabá, Breeze of the East Ensemble. Shahyar has been promoting the cultures and music of Central Eurasia and the Middle East since 1992, and is currently the Director of the Silk Road Ensemble, and serves as a member of the Silk Road Institute.



Ying-Ying Fu: Harp and Piano

Harpist of the Long River Philharmonic Orchestra, Ying Ying was born in Wuhan, the city of Yangtze River in China. When she was 4 years old, she was able to play a variety of music although she could not write a word. When she was 16, she won the highest level certificate of ‘Art Winter Camp’ held by Beijing University and Qsinghua University. For there are only 8 months she spent on harp by the time she won this prize, ‘Wuhan Morning News’ commented her as music genius. When she was 17, she made a game changing her journey—choosing finance as her major instead of music. In August 2012, she came to IU to pursue her master degree in Arts Administration. She believes that only by combining arts market with business theory can music achieve further development. And this is the cause which will drive her to struggle for a lifetime.


Tomás Lozano: Spanish guitar and hurdy Gordy

Tom is an instrumentalist, vocalist and composer born in Barcelona, Spain, and raised between southern Spain and Catalonia. Known for his iconic performance of Spain’s traditional ballads sung in Castilian, Catalan and Galician, Lozano also plays contemporary, popular and European folk music from France, Spain, Britain, the Middle East and Sephard. Beyond that, he performs his original compositions, solo or accompanied. In Silk Road Ensemble, Tomás plays Spanish guitar and hurdy gurdy. He also performs with Daily Bread & Butter, !Viva la Pepa!, Kativar, Istanbul Breeze, Salaam and Celtica. Tomás has performed throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. For more info please visit: 




Aliah Ajamoughlu: Cello

Growing up in Alabama where confederate flags dominate the landscape and people greet one another in mother tongue phrase “roll tide y’all,” Aliah struggled to find a community that would accept her maternal European-American heritage that dates back to the first ship at Jamestown and her paternal first-generation Syrian-American background. After a decade of childhood struggle, Aliah by chance chose to learn the cello in her fifth grade music class and was thrust into the eclectic world of musicians. Since beginning her musical journey, Aliah has been given a variety of opportunities to expand her musical palate from the standard Western concert music sphere. This expansion includes intimate concerts with artists such as electric violinist Mark Wood and Syrian pianist Malek Jandali as well as performances at venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York City. She recently graduated in 2015 from Butler University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music in cello performance and currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where she is working to obtain a doctorate in Ethnomusicology. While the music of Beethoven and Bach will always hold a special place in her heart, Aliah aims to enter the more diverse sphere of Syrian Revolutionary music in her work at Indiana University and document the stories of brave Syrian musicians using music rather than guns to draw their battle lines. She is excited to join the Silk Road Ensemble and experience the various distinctive musical languages along the Silk Road and their ability to communicate with one another despite their different rhythmic and tonal systems.


Jermaine Butler: Bass guitar, oud and percussion

Jermaine was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and raised in the capital of Baton Rouge where he first discovered his musical talents at a young age. Surrounded by a plethora of indigenous music such as zydeco, jazz, and blues, he began his formal studies of the bass guitar in high school while playing in several local musical acts in addition to his work with the Redemptories High School jazz band. Upon completing high school, he took up the drums and after graduating from Louisiana State University he toured the country extensively as part of the group Moon Honey. It was during this time that Jermaine began his official studies of the oud under the tutelage of the former oudist for the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. He has since relocated to Bloomington, Indiana to pursue graduate studies in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures while broadening his knowledge of the music and instruments of the Near East.


Jowher Ilham: Choreographer

Jowher Ilham was born in Beijing, China, far from her homeland in Eastern Turkistan (Xinjiang). Jowher is an ethnic Uyghur with a passion for dance and choreography. Since the age of four she has participated in numerous cultural events and dance competitions, both in the USA and in China. Jowher is currently a student in the IEP program at Indiana University and hopes to begin taking courses in the coming academic year.


Rodrigo Alonso: Classical Guitar

Rodrigo is the founder and director of the Octeto Sicarú, a renowned Mexican guitar ensemble, and is a performer and singer of Latin, Brazilian, and Mexican music styles, including genres such as bolero, trova yucateca, and son istmeño. He is also a poet. Rodrigo holds a Masters of Music from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He also studied at the Faculty of Music at UNAM, where he received the 'Gabino Barreda' medal for his academic achievements, and he now teaches there. He has studied classical guitar with Alejandro Salcedo, Edgar Luna, Roberto Aguirre, Turibio Santos and Ernesto Bitetti, and has attended master classes with Néstor Castañeda, Julio César Oliva, Odair Assad, Joaquín Clerch, Ricardo Cobo, Eduardo Fernandez, Victor Pellegrini, and Victor Villadangos. He is currently studying for his Performer Diploma at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington.


Aida Huseynova, Piano: Aida Huseynova, a musicologist and pianist, teaches Music Theory at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Aida has a Ph.D. in Musicology from the


St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. Her books and articles have been published in Azerbaijan, the US, Germany, France, Netherlands and Russia. Since 2000, Dr. Huseynova has been numerously hosted by Indiana University as a visiting scholar. In 2005, Aida was a member of the Advisors’ Committee at the Sixth Annual San Francisco World Music Festival. In 2006, she was a “musicologist-in-residence” at the International Festival and Symposium of Contemporary music “Icebreaker III: The Caucasus” in Seattle. Since 2007, Aida has been serving as a research advisor for the Silk Road Project under artistic direction of Yo-Yo Ma. Her awards include Fulbright Fellowship (2007-2008) and a fellowship from the Junior Faculty Development Program (2001-02). She is the member of the Composers Union of Azerbaijan and Central Eurasian Studies Society, U.S.A., Secretary General of the National Music Committee of Azerbaijan.