Central Asia’s Silk Road – legend conjures a centuries-old route to a world of fabulous opulence, architectural treasure and music that has entertained kings at court and villagers in communal celebrations. Music embodied by the image of a lone woman singing and plucking away at an ancient lute; an ethereal beauty with tumbling dark hair and a luminous, otherworldly voice. A woman not unlike Sevara Nazarkhan – if she was around a few hundred years ago, that is.

She is a direct descendent of this past. Her instrument is the doutar – a fifteenth century, two-stringed, Central Asian lute that is plucked not strummed. When music was the preserve of shepherds and lonely wayfarers, the strings were made from animal intestines. As the Silk Route became better established and the dried fruits and animal skins that Marco Polo carried were traded for gems and Chinese porcelain, the strings were woven from silk. The doutar has a warm, dulcet tone. In Sevara’s hands and voice an ancient tradition breathes.