Aga Khan Trust for Central Asia's musical heritage

April 2004 -

The fourth edition of Strictly Mundial will be in Istanbul, Turkey on 21 April. The four-day world music fair is an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, partner of various Dutch organisations including NOVIB, ICCO and the Prince Claus Fund.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is part of the Aga Khan Development Network. This group of organisations strives to improve the social and economic of the Ismaili Muslim community in more than 25 countries in Central and Southern Asia, East Africa and the Middle East. Each organisation has a different mandate, varying from health care and education to architecture, rural development and stimulating the private sector. The foundation for the network was laid late in the nineteenth century by Sultan Mahomed Shah. According to Ismaili tradition, the Imam is responsible not only for spiritual matters but also for improving living conditions.

The music initiative of the Aga Khan Trust has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It was started in 2000 in order to protect the musical heritage of Central Asia and pass it on to a new generation of artists and public. In this part of the world, music is not only a type of entertainment but also a means of expression, for portraying moral values and the strength of the soul. The music initiative sponsors and coordinates educational projects, ethnographic studies, archives, registrations and publications, concerts and workshops by traditional musicians. An important part of the activities is supporting local music centres, where experienced musicians teach their students based on the traditional ustaz-shagird method.

Other initiatives of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture are the Aga Khan Architecture Award, which is presented once every three years, and the historical city programme that supports renovation projects in historical places in the Muslim world. The education and culture programme includes the on-line database ArchNet, with information about architecture, urban construction and urban development in the Muslim world, as well as the Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Art in Toronto, Canada, and the Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Stone Town, Zanzibar.