How do possible misunderstandings about our work look like ? Here is an example of a discussion in one of our social media channels:
User A: do we need a silk road .. is it sustainable ? perhaps better than flying goods but so much land sealed up and not permeable to rain .
Silk Road Symphony Orchestra: Thank you, User A, for your comment. As musicians we simply love to play with metaphors - here , with the Silk Road metaphor - and believe that there certainly should be a different and independent European perspective and reading of these terms starting with a cultural dimension of the 'European Silk Road' as proposed by the wiiw in Vienna. Individual, free and not with only one official 'state' interpretation for the idea 'New' or 'Silk' itself but bottom up and inclusive. For us it is more about really personal imagination and developing hidden abilities in our audience. Why not to imagine the Silk Road as a connection between the universe and planet earth or between #responsiblelisteners ? We, as a Berlin based orchestra just want to make use of the freedom of speech we have in Europe. Welche Sprache oder ob das jetzt Konferenz der Vögel heißt ist nicht der Kern. Danke für Ihre Neugierde !!
Jan Moritz Onken: For me the fascinating thing is that the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra shows in so many ways how strongly prejudgment still affects our life in Germany / Europe. The term 'Silk Road' is so deeply 'monopolized' , 'mystified' and 'occupied' with traditional and historical narratives that it seams that society looks at you like a heretic if you invite them to question the background of these terms. This is really a fascinating and a sometimes deeply perplexing experience because thanks heaven we have freedom of speech in Europe and we are allowed to think freely and not inside one 'officially state or system owned' understanding of a term like f.e. 'orchestra' or 'New Silk Road'. I trust this helps to understand better our true motives and the potential of our idea to hopefully help to create a much more open mind and imagination in our society. And no worries: We are not anarchists ! Wir sind Berliner - and enough civilized.
User B: Silk Road Symphony Orchestra Why on Earth then did you choose this name, which associate on China, and it´s horrible policy?
Jan Moritz Onken: User B, Thank you for your kind question. This is a very personal reason because I have studied, worked and lived for many years in countries and cities along the historical Silk Road and was influenced by many different MUSICAL cultures in the sense of voice, sound, interpretation, style, form etc. I was driven by my search for quality and clear knowledge - this always was my driving motive - and I learned that the 'idea of quality' is sometimes totally the opposite to what I was used to from my own 'roots'. With that I discovered in my self how difficult it sometimes is to just develop your 'own truth' because otherwise you loose your identity or the clear understanding for your own roots f.e. in a dictatorship where you are a 'guest' with a 'visa' . In a certain moment I discovered how relative also the term 'roots' can be - that it is not limited to a narrow geographic zone but much deeper interrelated. This led me to the idea for the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra and the decision to challenge my self and so called #responsiblelisteners to play with the role of the background of the idea 'orchestra'. What if the Silk Road between people not yet exists because we don't listen to each ? Sorry if this sounds very abstract but every orchestra defines its name usually also through a background f.e. 'Berlin'. And why not to involve our audience in this co-sounding process ? When I heard of the Chinese ambition to build a 'New Silk Road' I thought why not to challenge this approach from a European perspective and I thought it can only be through the basic human background of these terms - and most important for me as a European: inclusive, participatory and better always asking first the people not only along the Silk Road and ideally even in China what their personal idea of quality is and how they would express it with a reflection of classical music in their very own understanding in the context of a modern , 21st century , truly global , basic human background - not political or just economical or oppressive background ! - for these terms. Thanks to Google ad Grants we could reach out for 2 years to literally all existing countries around the world and more than 1.200.000 people learned about the Silk Road Cultural Belt and the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra. Of course this is a very difficult task when a certain environment tells other people to doubt in such a European respond and possibility but also with very limited resources we did quite a few concerts already in Berlin and we are moving on - both digitally and hopefully soon again life at the Berliner Dialogkonzerte. So it is both - very personally motivated due to my personal formation and my connection to many exceptionally talented and generous people, friends, teachers around the world who will not give up to make sure that the term 'New Silk Road' will have a European or better basic human reading including the term 'belt' and 'road' and - motivated through the great and inspiring work of all the partners of/in the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra itself and in our growing audience around the world ! I'm very happy that the wiiw in Vienna already in 2018 proposed a plan for a 'European Silk Road' and this idea is certainly positive and independent. I'm very grateful for your question. Wishing you All the best !
User C: Yes, I have seen how reliable China-sourcing really is. :))
Silk Road Symphony Orchestra: User C, Please check the nature of our idea. We are an orchestra , based in Berlin and we invite you to share a personal source of inspiration as an expression of your personal idea of quality expressed in a work of classical music . Enjoy !
User D: ok, I meant the chinese imperialistic🧐 expansion project...
Jan Moritz Onken To be more clear: China’s motivation to dominate is not our motivation. They think what they think. Our motivation is to develop hidden abilities in #responsiblelisteners around the world also because we believe that it is crucial to distinguish the background of certain qualities and ideas of ‚new‘, ‚silk‘ etc. based on certain basic human qualities f.e. in classical music. It would be fascinating to learn more about the truly personal ideas - not ‘official party - Weltanschauung‘ - of ‚new‘ or ‚way‘ also from our Chinese listeners , but we also have to learn that independent clarity and a critical and differentiated position of an Individuum is not automatically welcome and appreciated in each system on this planet. We are 🇪🇺 and the Silk Road Cultural Belt & The Silk Road Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2016 in Berlin . Callias Foundation
User E: Don't worry, Europe can create its own narrative. Still, you can create a narrative for China because its citizens deserve a better future than what you are currently offering them.
Silk Road Symphony Orchestra: User E, Thank you for your comment. Many Greetings from the Conference of the Birds ! And also to your kind information what the subject is about before judging too fast: basic human qualities - and their expression in classical music . Beyond that these principles are transferable into many relations not only between people for whom classical music is an important part of life. Maybe this applies also to you - maybe not.
User E: Silk Road Symphony Orchestra Well, then remove the hashtag for europe narrative if it's too ambiguous, will you?
Jan Moritz Onken: User E, of course not if our idea of ‚Silk‘ , ‚Road‘ , ‚Culture‘ etc. is an open question and invitation to people from all over the world to join an open discussion at the #WhySilkHub what these qualities mean on a personal and individual level . We believe Europe is much deeper then many people think and has its own ideas of quality based on basic human qualities expressed f.e. in a positive and independent idea for a #EuropeanSilkRoad as our cooperation partner , the wiiw in Vienna is proposing . Just check their Website also regarding our role www.european-silk-road.eu Have a perfect day !
User E: Jan Moritz Onken Cultural initiatives that have even a tiny string related to an oppressive regime should are not welcome, quite the contrary. The world already has an example on this topic, it's called The Red Army Choir, a cultural and musical initiative related to another dictatorial regime. So if you don't have experience in spotting a trojan horse, you should try harder, especially when you are repeatedly told so by people who monitor human rights for a living.
Silk Road Symphony Orchestra: User E, Thank you for checking our true motives. This is really helpful because the biggest obstacle we are facing since 2015 is prejudgement. If you check our organisation and our activities since 2015 even under the microscope you will not find any dependence on any 'foreign' organisation outside Callias Foundation in Berlin itself. A term 'New Silk Road' can never be monopolized or preoccupied by anyone. We always trust first - and then we test too. Generally - the Silk Road between heaven and earth still needs to be discovered. There is a historical term and there is The Silk Road Cultural Belt with its own background of these terms. What we never accept is any racial or discriminating position towards any other human being no matter wether this person is from France, South Africa, China or any other country in this world. And if this is the nature of your reaction we ask you to really examine very carefully and in deep detail all our websites including our partners and please explain them based on facts that we are not enough independent from any such radical and unproven position. Thank you for your curiosity and please keep searching for great music making !
User E: Silk Road Symphony Orchestra I have lived under dictatorship and I don't take lessons on the relationship between money taken by authoritarian regimes from their citizens and then redirected to cultural activities. You should have honor and refuse to take money from dictators that mistreat their own citizens and that discriminate between them. I support all citizens all the world in their pursue for freedom, freedom of speech, equality, and all the other human rights, including those mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by U.N. and this is precisely why I took the time to tell you that what you do is wrong on so many levels. I don't know what your true motives are and I admit at first I have thought you are unaware of the situation, but seeing how you deflect criticism on taking money from dictators and reroute this criticism towards a supposedly discrimination theme, makes me think you either don't care where your bread comes from, or you are indeed knowledgeable of the moral implications of your decision.
Jan Moritz Onken: Dear User E, thank you again for your comments. As one of the founders of Callias Foundation which serves as the legal structure behind the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra & the Silk Road Cultural Belt in Berlin and as the Artistic & Musical Director in charge of these programs I can reassure you that we never took any money/donation or funding from any organisation or private person including state organizations wich do not respect our own internal reglament within our registered non-profit organisation. We are fully transparent and are a member of 'Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft' which is monitoring in Germany very strictly any organisation who decides to make their motives and funding resources open to the public. Please check our Websites first. I explained this to you before. China or any other country is not our motivation. Our motivation are #responsiblelisteners around the world: people for whom classical music is an important part of life. ---- Thank you for sharing your personal experience and the dramatic implications this experience implies for you. This sometimes can disturb trust in many ways. I don't have to explain this to you and I'm totally aware that we - The Silk Road Symphony Orchestra - indeed have to live up to basic human / moral and ethical necessities when we are realizing and unfolding a global term like a 'New Silk Road' with a different - musical, basic human and European understanding and interpretation. I understand that the difference is obvious and I believe this should not lead to a form of 'testing' , where without knowing the idea or background behind in detail - 'it' gets 'stamped' with a judgement which is not appropriate to its role and does not leave any space to share the prove of any common sense in practice. We choose very carefully and strictly our local and international cooperation partners and since our debut in Berlin in June 2016 we have been receiving funding only from certain selected non-profit organisations in Germany including the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, ArteMusica Stiftung (Frankfurt), Breuninger Stiftung etc. and private donators. They are all on our list of supporters which you can read if you want. I trust the personal integrity and international reputation of each person next and behind us speaks for it self. Our legal reglament is deeply rooted in the free, democratic and European roots of my home country, Germany, and I am aware that we are fully responsible for all our actions not only in front of the German or European law but in front of our own conscience - always - but this is in the end very individual - and here I respect the right of any other person to have a different idea of justice then I do - also I deeply believe in the democratic consciousness and in the European Union as a Way (A completely different idea of a New Silk Road..) on this planet hopefully soon without any mask. Still. it would be so much better to learn from each other and not to label the 'new' or the 'other' with any label. Wishing you all the best and again - it would be our privilege if you first trust the facts - and then - only if really necessary - test / judge them into a 'stuff position'. Thank you !