Assyrians on the “Silk Road” at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Urhoy Group II

The 36th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will explore the cross-cultural influences among the lands of the ancient and fabled Silk Road, from Japan to Italy. 

The 2002 Festival, “The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust,” will be held outdoors on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets Wednesday, June 26 through Sunday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 7. 

Admission is free.

The Festival will be an international exhibition of Silk Road traditions with some 350 musicians, artisans, cooks and storytellers from the United States and more than 20 other countries telling the complex story of the Silk Road, its peoples and cultures, and the intercultural exchange it inspired.

The Festival will be laid out along the National Mall with magnificent pavilions that evoke the look and feel of Silk Road architecture. Visitors will follow the Silk Road from Nara, Japan (the pavilion closest to the U.S. Capitol) to Venice, Italy (the pavilion closest to the Washington Monument). On the way, they will pass through Xi’an, China; Samarkand, Uzbekistan; and Istanbul, Turkey. 

On the way, visitors will pass three Assyrian contributions: singers and musicians, and a calligrapher.

The Urhoy Group II, which includes ten Assyrian singers and musicians, is coming from Qamishly, Syria, and the calligrapher is none other than the very talented Issa Benyamin of Iran and Illinois. 

The members of the Urhoy Group II are: John Karat (Group Leader), Shamiram Steifo, Edward Danho, Adnan Aziz, Ezla Karat, George Kentar, Fadi Karat, Eelona Danho, Maya Stifo, and Sandy Amsih.

The sponsorship for most of the Assyrian participation is borne by the Smithsonian festival itself but part of the expenses also come from individual members of the Assyrian community in the United States.

The Festival is produced in partnership with The Silk Road Project, a global initiative founded and led by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in coordination with a distinguished team of scholars, musicians and artists from around the world.

Special passports for young visitors will be available at Passport Stations around the Festival. The passports will feature a foldout map and fun facts. Children may have their passports stamped when they visit each pavilion and will receive a reward at the end of their Silk Road journey.

Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with special celebrations, performances and concerts continuing until 9 p.m.

This is a wonderful opportunity to expose the thousands (over 1 million) visitors to Assyrian contributions to Silk Road civilization. Plan one of your summer vacations about this event. 

Bring your children.

The Urhoy Group’s Performance Schedule
Date Beginning Time Ending Time Performance Place in
Washington DC
Wednesday June 26th 12:45 PM 1:30 PM Istanbul Crossroads
4:30 PM 5:15 PM Venice Piazza
Thursday June 27th 11:00 AM 11:45 AM Istanbul Crossroads
2:45 PM 3:30 PM Nara Gate
Friday June 28th 12:15 PM 1:00 PM Nara Gate
3:30 PM 4:15 PM Istanbul Crossroads
Saturday June 29th 11:00 AM 11:45 AM Istanbul Crossroads
4:00 PM 4:45 PM Nara Gate
Sunday June 30th 11:00 AM 11:45 AM Venice Piazza
2:00 PM 2:45 PM Nara Gate
Monday July 1st No Performance No Performance No Performance
No Performance No Performance No Performance
Tuesday July 2nd No Performance No Performance No Performance
No Performance No Performance No Performance
Wednesday July 3rd 11:30 AM 12:15 PM Nara Gate
3:30 PM 4:15 PM Istanbul Crossroads
Thursday July 4th 11:00 AM 11:45 AM Istanbul Crossroads
2:45 PM 3:30 PM Nara Gate
Friday July 5th 11:45 AM 12:30 PM Nara Gate
2:45 PM 3:30 PM Istanbul Crossroads
Saturday July 6th 11:00 AM 11:45 AM Istanbul Crossroads
2:45 PM 3:30 PM Nara Gate
Sunday July 7th 12:15 PM 1:00 PM Venice Piazza
3:30 PM 4:45 PM Istanbul Crossroads

Assyrians on the “Silk Road” at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Back to the Main Page