The purpose of the centre is to provide facilities for traditional musicians and performers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral to train youth in different traditions and genres of mountain music. The centre will follow the Ustaad-Shagird (teacher-apprentice) model of music education, which the Aga Khan Music Initiative has previously implemented in central Asian countries. An internationally renowned music educator and music events expert, Mr. Will Ramsay, visited Hunza last year and to help develop the community-based music education and out-reach programme that is now based at the Leif Larsen Music Centre.
The Centre will provide short residencies for visiting artists, writers, historians and environmentalists during summer and music education and production during autumn and winter. It will also help local communities organise different festivals and music events. Currently, 32 young students (18 female and 14 male) are enrolled in two months’ basic training in seven local music instruments short courses, supported by five local musicians.
The Leif Larsen Music Centre was constructed by the Ciqam social women entreprise, using local materials and vernacular architecture. It was jointly funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad (47%) and the Aga Khan Music Initiative (53%) at a total cost of about USD 150.000.
At the opening ceremony also the ambassadors of the European Union, Mr. Jean-François Cautain and his wife, of Switzerland, Mr. Marc George, and of the acting high commissioner of Canada, Mr. Andrew Turner, were present. So were representatives of the Aga Khan Cultural Services in Pakistan, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services in Pakistan, FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Foundation Pakistan and Aga Khan Rural Support Programme as well as representatives of the local community and residents at the centre.