The captivating Silkroad Ensemble musically traverses the vast and varied emotions of grief with an intimate, expressive, and breathtakingly palpable performance. Landing somewhere between a song cycle and chamber opera, “Falling Out of Time” was created for the ensemble by famed composer and MacArthur “genius” grant awardee Osvaldo Golijov.

Founded by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Silkroad Ensemble comes to the Moss Arts Center on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. as part of its world tour premiering the work. The ensemble performs in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

Two-time Grammy winner Golijov was inspired to create “Falling Out of Time” by author David Grossman’s work of the same name. Part poem and fable, the book narrates a journey “out of time” as parents grieve the death of their child, a quest to comprehend a loss with no name. Golijov’s work is scored for three voices, electronics, string quintet, kemanche (Iranian bowed string instrument), percussion, trumpet, and pipa and sheng (Chinese plucked and string instruments). The performance features vocalist Wu Tong and singer-songwriter Nora Fischer.

The music is characteristic of Golijov’s omnivorous style. Drawing inspiration from the early Delta blues and epic ballads of Central Asia — two traditions that have relentlessly explored loss through a musical lens, the composer’s vulnerable, exposed composition imagines the ensemble as a magnified blues guitar, articulating a counterpoint of tender and raw intimacy impossible in an orchestra.

Golijov’s exquisite and nuanced interpretation of the story portrays a musical, mythical walk toward a place where breathing is again possible. As the walk unfolds, the music channels the fires, falls, trance, tenderness, and rage of grief as voices emerge, asking unanswerable questions that become mantras of movements toward breath.

“Osvaldo Golijov's gorgeous new creation reflects David Grossman’s transcendent work in the language Osvaldo speaks so well: music. As the book does, Osvaldo and Silkroad achieve a remarkable in-between space, one in which each of us can explore the grief and intimacy that no one lives without. ‘Falling Out of Time’ is a reminder to pause and listen to all that we have in common, and it is not to be missed,” said Ma, who founded the ensemble in 1998 as a reminder that even as rapid globalization resulted in division, it brought extraordinary possibilities for working together.

With a repertoire spanning contemporary, improvisational, and ancient traditions from around the world, the Silkroad Ensemble connects the foreign and the familiar through a new musical language. These Grammy Award-winning artists create and present new music, as well as lead teacher and musician training workshops, and residency programs in schools, museums, and communities. Off stage, they lead professional development workshops and experiment with new media and genres to share Silkroad’s approach to cultural collaboration.

The Silkroad Ensemble has performed in more than 100 cities in over 30 countries and has recorded seven albums. “Sing Me Home,” which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album, was developed and recorded alongside the documentary feature “The Music of Strangers, from Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville.

This performance is supported in part by a gift from Don and Libby Drapeau.

Related events

Members of the Silkroad Ensemble will discuss how grief is interpreted in their music and cultures for the panel discussion “Music and Grief” on Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre. Panelists will demonstrate how their ideas are conveyed in composer Osvaldo Golijov's “Falling Out of Time.” Presented in partnership with the Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech, the event is free, but registration is required.


Tickets for the performance are $40-75 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

While Virginia Tech students can always attend any Moss Arts Center performance for only $10, the center also offers free last-minute rush tickets for students who sign up for text notifications. To receive these notifications, text “arts” to 31996. Availability of rush tickets varies by performance and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last in the box office. Virginia Tech ID will be required for admission.


Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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