Representing the third generation of musicians in his family, Ari Babakhanov is a master of the Kashgar rubab, a centuries-old string instrument, on which he plays traditional Shash maqam and Western classical music. A true musical visionary, Babakhanov was praised by www.bbc.co.uk for "weaving a quiet magic." Babakhanov inherited much of his love of music from his grandfather, Levi Babakhanov (1874-1926), a still-remembered singer who was forced to flee his homeland to escape government persecution. Although he attempted to settle in Samarkand, he died mysteriously shortly afterwards; rumors have persisted that he was poisoned. Babakhanov's musical talent was obvious from an early age. Studying the maqams from the age of 12, he received a prestigious medal at the Soviet Festival for Youth.