Replenish your sense of meaning: Musician Kayhan Kalhor on “Silent City"
Play • 36 min

Musician Kayhan Kalhor shares the story of composing and performing “Silent City,” his epic 25-minute piece for the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) and ensemble. It’s a specific story about writing music to memorialize a devastating event, the massacre of innocents in Halabja, Iraq. But the takeaway is universal: When life feels too much to bear, create art that means something — for yourself and for others. As Kayhan takes us on the journey of creating “Silent City,” you’ll hear him find ways to bear witness to tragedy — and also celebrate the life that comes after. You’ll also hear how music-making, for him, is an ongoing quest for beauty, humanity, and meaning. 

Follow along (with transcript and photos) at

Learn more about Silent City on Kayhan Kalhor’s website::

You can hear the final movement of Silent City on Silkroad’s YouTube channel:

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