May 15, 2007

Tuva: Traditional Ensemble Tours America

The Alash musical ensemble is currently on a tour of the U.S.A., sharing the Tuvan culture with an eager public.

The Alash musical ensemble is currently on a tour of the U.S.A., sharing the Tuvan culture with an eager public.

Below is an article written by Jean Bubley and published by Tuva Online:

Tuvan music is echoing through the halls of U.S. schools thanks to the Alash Ensemble. Currently on a concert tour, Alash is also conducting workshops for youngsters. They consider it outreach for Tuvan music, and it is something that sets them apart from other bands. The most frequent questions they get are: “Does it hurt? What language do you speak? How long does it take you to learn to do this?”

The teachers prepare their classes well by telling them about Tuva and the music in advance of the workshop, and the students are very enthusiastic and receptive. A teacher from Texas reports that his students now walk through the halls trying to throat sing. A girl emailed Alash to thank them for coming so far and to express her desire to go to Tuva after graduation. Youngsters who attended previous school presentations bring their families to the concerts.

The workshops give the Ensemble members the opportunity to meet people in different areas of the U.S. – small towns and rural areas – who might not get to hear the music otherwise. They say, “It’s entertaining and gives us a chance to share the music. The kids get a real unique opportunity and we are hoping to make more people aware of Tuva because it's a small country and not on the map, but it has very beautiful traditions and music.”

Sean Quirk, manager and interpreter for Alash, adds, “There’s an increasing interest in Tuvan music and this helps build a future audience for all Tuvan music. The students who hear this are going to remember it for a long time. Our idea is that all kinds of people can learn about the music and enjoy it, not just people in Las Vegas or New York or San Francisco and other big cities. It’s great going to schools in small towns and in states where not much is known about Tuvan music and culture.”

In Nebraska, Alash also played at some senior centers and a school for the mentally handicapped. They report, “The people who were there really were engaged in the music and enjoyed it.”

Alash’s concerts are equally well received. After the Southern Methodist University performance, a reviewer wrote, “They played to a crowd of about fifty at SMU and pretty much knocked everybody's socks off, receiving a standing ovation after their final song.” Another concert goer from Fort Worth wrote, “This was beautiful and wonderful. This was the best way to spend a Sunday morning. I was transported. … Thank you for coming to Ahavath Sholom synagogue and sharing not only your beautiful music, but a small part of Tuvan culture.”