Tag Archives: Tuva

Artist profiles: Huun-Huur-Tu

Huun-Huur-Tu

If you were to journey to the geographical center of Asia you would reach Tuva, an autonomous republic on the Russian-Mongolian border. This is the home of Huun-Huur-Tu a group of fascinating overtone- and throat-singers whose language can be traced from Turkish and whose culture reflects many similarities to that of Mongolia. Tuvan throat-singers produce up to three notes simultaneously by selectively amplifying harmonics naturally present in their voices. Traditionally attired the quartet alternates between solo and ensemble works.

Sasha Bapa his brother Sayan and two other musicians Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Albert Kuvezin formed Huun-Huur-Tu in 1992 to focus on the performance of as Sasha put it “old and forgotten songs”. Sasha Sayan and Kaigal-ool were refugees from one of the large state-managed song and dance ensembles that became a fixture of official cultural life during the Soviet era. For decades these ensembles with their glitzy performances of folk music or pseudo folk music offered close to the only outlet for young musicians who wanted to earn a living playing indigenous music. But as the music business has become increasingly privatized throughout the former Soviet Union many musicians have abandoned the state ensembles and formed their own groups. The musical results have been decidedly mixed.

At the same time that the members of Huun-Huur-Tu have devoted themselves to learning old songs and tunes their performances reflect the values of innovation as much as tradition. For example the very notion of an ensemble like Huun-Huur-Tu is new to Tuva: Most Tuvan music has traditionally been performed by a solo singer or instrumentalist and musicians have tended to specialize in a particular genre or musical style. These genres and styles in turn have deep roots in particular kinds of social occasions. By contrast Huun-Huur-Tu’s eclectic concert presentations of old songs and tunes fall between the cracks of Tuvan musical life.

In Tuva there’s still no real context for what we do,” says Sasha Bapa. “We perform there only rarely because it’s so difficult for an independent group like ours: where can we find a good hall and sound equipment and transportation to get there? How can we deal with all the government and commercial structures that still control a lot of the booking? And who can offer fees that will support us even modestly as professional musicians? Kaigal-ool Khovalyg the musical leader of our group might be better known in America than in Tuva. We’re trying to preserve our musical heritage but at the same time we’re trying to look forward. If a musical tradition stops evolving it is destined to die.”

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg – voice, igil, doshpuluur, Chanzy

Anatoly Kuular – voice, byzaanchi ,khomuz, amarga

Sayan Bapa – voice, doshpuluur, marinhuur, guitar

Alexey Saryglar – voice, tungur (drum), dazhaaning, khavy (rattle)

Discography:

6 Horses In My Herd (USA: Shanachie 645 1993 – Europe: JARO 4196-2, 1996)

Fly Fly My Sadness with The Bulgarian Voices – Angelite (JARO 4197-2, 1996)

Orphan’s Lament (USA: Shanachie 6458 1997 – Europe: JARO 424-2, 1997)

If I’d Been Born An Eagle (USA: Shanachie 648 1997 – Europe: JARO 4216-2, 1998)

Mountain Tale with The Bulgarian Voices – ANGELITE (JARO 4212-2, 1998)

Where Young Grass Grows (Shanachie 6618, 1999)

Best Live (JARO 4236-2, 2001)

More Live (JARO 4246-2, 2002)

Spirits from Tuva (JARO 4243-2, 2002)

More Live (2003)

Altai Sayan Tandy-Uula (2004)

Live at Fantasy Studios (2008)

Mother-Earth! Father-Sky! (2008)

Eternal (2009)

Ancestors Call (World Village, 2010)

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Acclaimed Tuvan Throat Singing Ensemble Alash to Perform at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro

Alash

Renowned Tuvan throat singing ensemble Alash is set to perform this Thursday, February 16 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Alash’s musicians are maestros of Tuvan throat singing (xöömei), an extraordinary technique for singing multiple pitches at the same time. What differentiates this talented trio from earlier generations of Tuvan throat singers is the delicate addition of modern influences into their music.

Alash collaborated with American musicians Béla Fleck & the Flecktones and the jazz collective Sun Ra Arkestra.

Available recordings include Achai, Alash and Buura.

Tickets for this concert are $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artscenterlive.org or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787.

The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main Street in Carrboro.

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Artist Profiles: Bady-Dorzhu Ondar

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar – Photo by John O’Hara, Whitefish Bay Herald

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar was born in the village of Iyme. In May 2006, he was awarded Best in Competition among xoomei performers on the 85th birthday of the popular throat singer Maxim Dakpai. He was given a horse (a very valued award in Tuva) as grand prize.
In July 2005, Bady-Dorzhu Ondar won the Best Vocals category at the Ustuu-Huree Festival, and in September 2005 he was given a special award at the 4th All-Russia Festival of Folk Orchestras, dedicated to Kalinin and held at the Saratov Folk Arts Center.

Bady-Dorzhu Ondar’s career started early. At the age of eight, the young throat singer started to perform with his teacher, the distinguished xoomeizhi Kongar-ool Ondar. The teacher and student were guests on one of the most highly rated American TV late night programs, the David Letterman Show. Later, 9-year-old Bady-Dorzhu Ondar performed Tuvan throat singing on another popular show, hosted by popular comedian Chevy Chase.

In 1999 Bady-Dorzhu Ondar became one of the founders of The Alash Ensemble. The group was formed in the basement of the Kyzyl Arts College in Tuva’s capital city. Originally known as Changy-Xaya, Alash became the resident traditional ensemble at the school.

In December of 2007, Bady-Dorzhu Ondar (who was 23-years old) was awarded the title People’s Xoomeizhi of Tuva. The title People’s Xoomeizhi is an honor bestowed by the president of Tuva in recognition of a throat singer’s artistic accomplishment.

Discography:

Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden (2006)
Alash (2007)
Buura (2011)
Achai (2013)

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