Saffron Caravan

The Essence of Arts Diplomacy

Saffron Caravan, The Genesis World Music Ensemble, unites professional musicians from Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, Morocco, the Middle East, India, Brazil, Venezuela and the United States to create new art and to perform together under the aegis of Genesis at the Crossroads.

They demonstrate that the arts can be used to build sustainable bridges between cultures, made stronger through educational initiatives and collaborations with soloists, choirs and orchestras.

Their repertoire, spanning seven languages and multiple keys, explores both the sacred and mystical traditions in Arab, Jewish, Ladino and Persian music. Infused with sub-Saharan roots of blues and jazz, spiced with Afro-Caribbean, South American and Southeast Asian rhythms, their evocative melodies transport international audiences. Their performances feature foreign integrated artists. Half of the musicians are Grammy-Awardees and/or Nominees.

Genesis at the Crossroads sustains the impact of Saffron Caravan’s performances through artist-in-residencies, interdisciplinary programs with dance, spoken word and visual art, arts-education master classes, speaking engagements, community partnerships, cross-cultural exchanges and humanitarian work.

Prior to Saffron Caravan, Genesis at the Crossroads’ cross-cultural collaborations were showcased at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and were featured at the United Nation’s 60th Anniversary celebrations in addition to other programs across the United States. Genesis made history creating and producing the first cross-cultural collaborative Middle Eastern – North African festival and grew it into the largest of its kind in the world. The late actor Harold Ramis served as an Emcee and the late Maggie Daley, Chicago’s First Lady served as the Honorary Chair of Genesis’ flagship outdoor festival, HAMSA Fest.

In the Media

WTTW TV Chicago Tonight to over 1 million viewers: “Saffron Caravan Uses Music to Build Bridges Between Cultures”

2011 International Freedom to Create Prize Nominees


Aaron Cohen, The Chicago Tribune

…a flawless blend of musical styles from around the globe.

Tim Receveur, US Department of State, USINFO and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC

For members of the audience, what may have sounded strange and impossible mere hours before was happening before their eyes – a mix of old and new, East and West, musicians whose countries are at odds playing together and making beautiful music. It seemed like the most natural sound in the world.

Rebecca Baskin, The Jerusalem Post

Sounds of Healing™ in 2020-2023

Genesis’ tour continues with Sounds of Healing™ in 2020-2023 to include December 2020, April 2021, and September 2021 virtual programs followed by live, in-person performances in the pandemic’s aftermath.

Upcoming Live Performances

Live, in-person performances in the pandemic’s aftermath in:

  • India
  • UAE
  • US (Chicago, California, DC and Philadelphia)
  • Brazil
  • Rwanda
  • Ghana
  • South Africa
  • Parts of Europe, (UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands)

Past Performances

Following their programs in Morocco and the Middle East, Saffron Caravan had an array of performances and music education classes:

  • Srebrenica, Bosnia in the 20th anniversary year of the genocide in the former Yugoslavia
  • Across the US in 2015-16, (including Chicago and DC)
  • University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and JusticeArt of Peace global conference opening performance.  Also included a roundtable on the role of arts in conflict transformation using Saffron Caravan as a case study. (2016)
  • On Chicago’s South side in 2017-2019 at Merit School of Music, Phillips Academy and Hyde Park’s Experimental Station, impacting over 500 students. Included an instrument drive with for Chicago’s at-risk south side and refugee youth
  • In Chicago, the 2018 world premiere of Journeys, showcased their interdisciplinary work with refugee youth dancers.
  • At DuSable Museum of African American History, (Smithsonian Museum in Chicago)
  • Featured as part of WBEZ Worldview’s 25 Anniversary
  • As a Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Forum on Global Cities Adjunct Program.

Junior Saffron Caravan

In an effort to bring our work to the next generation and broaden our legacy, we have created the nucleus of the first Junior Saffron Caravan Ensemble with Israeli youth (Arab and Jewish). They were trained by Saffron Caravan artists and performed with them in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in 2011. They also recorded a number of tracks for our second Saffron Caravan CD Legacy. This pilot will be scaled worldwide.