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Concert of the group "Ay Kherel", Riga,
18 January 2004

      In the middle of January within the festival Riga music in Riga performed Tuvinian ensemble Ay Kherel (Moonbeam), and we have visited their concert in the Riga Small Guild.

Andris Kapusts and Pēteris Selga

      At the beginning of the concert Andris Kapusts has congratulated the festival with the first anniversary and presented a globe to its main organizer Peteris Selga. After that ethnomusicologist Boris Avramets has told about a necessity of a personal contact for hearing folk music, about the small population (about 200 thousand), but the large popularity of Tuvinians, and about techniques of a throat singing.
      It is pleasant, that the organizers found a translator directly from the Tuvinian language (she was not very fluent, but it is not so important) - it was possible to experience beauty not only of Tuvinian singing, but also of speech.

Lazo Mongush conjures

      The leader of the group Vladimir Soyan has told some introduction words and then has invited shaman Lazo Mongush to consecrate the hall. First the shaman has told about his craft - his regimentals weighs approximately 30-40 kg; shamans can gear up they force both from a concourse of people, by walking on live coals, cuting or burning of themselfs. The last way the shaman shown to spectators: he walked thrue the hall with a burning junipers' bunch. Seems (if it was not an optical illusion), that time from time he truly allowed the flame to lick his hands. After that the shaman began to conjure: to beat a timbrel, to move, to turn and to sing.

Ay Kherel

      The group Ay Kherel started they performance with a Buddhist lamas' pray. It was the sole song without an instrumental accompaniment, that, obviously, depends of the religious importance and of ancientity of the melody. Interestingly, that Estonians has similar folk melodies.

Shaman plays a guimbarde

Lilia Soyan sings under a phonogram

      In continuation the ensemble has played 20 more songs. By contents its was about nature (rivers, mountains), native places, thirst of freedom, shepherds, horses and even about a tractor operator; also - one chaffing and one jokes' song. From a musical point of view were felt elements of Chinese, Mongolian and Turki' music (Tuvinians are Turki by language and Buddhists by religion); certainly, basically the songs were mixture of the those influences, though some "pure" specimens came across too. The majority of songs (excepting the "Chinese-like") were fast and with a pronounced rhythm, that is an indicative of a large influence of a modern music on arrangements of the ensemble. It is interesting, that this rhythm was created by string instruments, without drums. The modernity of arrangements was confirmed by second voices too - its was created in classical harmonies. Actually, fully traditional was only several songs - the already mentioned pray, examples of throat singing (the executors have shown 5 of 7 kinds, widespread in Tuva), and performances of the shaman. The song singed "under a phonogram" by Lilia Soyan, a daughter of the group's leader, stired up a misunderstanding in listeners who have come to an "alive" music. In turn, the biggest applauses was after Belik's Elikben's throat singing in accompaniment of bizanch (an instument, made from a birch tree and a goat's leather; horsehairs of bow of it are plaited between strings). A strong impression has made the low throat singing of Timur Karasal. String playing of all the three lads was dexterous and free, with interesting improvisations.

Belik Elikben plays solo on bizanch

      The ensemble looks as a well considered and realized enterprise, instead of a group of persons who shares the same views. The leader sings poorly, bu he is a good organizer and story-teller. He has involved three gifted lads, which sing and play very well, and, as a matter of fact, are an artistical pith of the collective; the family of the leader without those lads would be nothing, but lads without the family could performe in a good quality. Certainly, those lads could not to make a such good management as it does Vladimir Soyan. The daughter of the leader Lilia sings well, however, her lobbying from the part of the father is too striking. The wife of the leader travels with the group and is called a "manager", though looks, that all managing things does the leader itself.

Belik Elikben with bizanch

Timur Karasal with iglu

Khemerol with chanza

      The concert was interesting, however the main impression was that it's program is oriented to listeners who are not connected to folk music (for example, Western tourists). Eastern European folk music lovers with much more pleasure would listen a pure, not altered Tuvinian folk music.

      Songs' recordings from this activity:

      Article: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš, 27 February 2003
      Photos: Ansis Ataols Bērziņš

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