For Immediate Release
Open World Program Offers Rare Glimpse of Unique Musical Art
New York, NY — Tuvan throat singing group Alash – one of the world’s foremost practitioners of this rare musical art form – will be performing in the New York City area in early March. This will be an opportunity to hear and witness a musical craft born in the remote mountains of southern Russia and Mongolia. Alash’s visit to New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York for three weeks of performances and collaboration with U.S. musicians is sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. CEC ArtsLink is hosting the musicians during their stay in the U.S.
Throat singing is a challenging musical discipline that has not been broadly introduced in the U.S. Throat singers use their voices to create multiple notes simultaneously. Some have compared the chant-like sound to that of a human bagpipe. Throat singers also mimic the sounds of the natural world – whistling birds, bubbling streams, howling wolves and blowing wind are often incorporated into the music.
Alash will be performing in New York City at St. Luke’s Church in lower Manhattan on March 11th and in Middletown, CT at Wesleyan University’s Crowell Concert Hall on March 9th. Alash has won a number of awards at international folk music festivals, and in 2003 won first prize at the international symposium “Khoomei,” the world’s utmost competition in throat singing, held in the Tuvan capital of Kyzyl.
The recent Academy-award nominated documentary “Genghis Blues” brought international attention to the art of throat singing by highlighting American blues musician Paul Pena, who taught himself how to throat sing and eventually traveled to Tuva to take part in a music festival. Alash’s artistic director, master throat singer Kongar-Ool Ondar, helped Paul Pena to learn the technique and was also featured in the movie.
Throat singing was developed among Tuva’s semi-nomadic sheepherders centuries ago. Tuva, a small, autonomous Russian Republic in southeastern Siberia bordering Mongolia, was a part of China until 1921, when it became an independent country. It remained independent until the Soviet Union absorbed it in 1944; it is now a part of the Russian Federation. The music of throat singing carries over long distances, important for the rugged and mountainous terrain of Tuva. The remote location and Soviet-era travel limitations restricted visitors, but also allowed Tuvans to preserve their unique musical traditions.
The Tuvan throat singers’ visit is part of a unique exchange program for the Open World Program that focuses on cultural leaders from Russia. Open World’s Cultural Leaders Program aims to forge better understanding between the United States and Russia by enabling emerging Russian leaders in the arts to experience U.S. cultural and community life and to collaborate with their American counterparts. Support for the cultural program is provided through partnership and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Open World Leadership Center funds the administrative portion of the program. Open World is also organizing the residencies for Russian jazz musicians in Louisville, Kentucky and Moscow, Idaho, and a group of textile artisans in Santa Fe, New Mexico in February.
The Open World Program is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress designed to build mutual understanding between the United States and Russia and other participating countries. Over 10,000 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program’s inception in 1999.
CEC ArtsLink, through a multi-faceted program of cultural exchange, serves to create and sustain constructive, mutually beneficial relationships in the arts between the United States and Central Europe, Russia and Eurasia.
For more information or to arrange interviews with the Tuvan throat singers, please contact Courtney Duke, The PBN Company, at 202-466-6210. For more background on Open World, please visithttp://www.openworld.gov.