: Backstage At 3rd
Tuesday, Oct 01, 2013 6:00 PM CDT
(5:00 PM Doors)
3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN
Alash ensemble is a trio of master throat singers (xöömeizhi) from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia. The ancient art of throat singing (xöömei) developed among the nomadic herdsmen of this region. Alash remains grounded in this tradition while expanding its musical vocabulary with new ideas from the West.
The ensemble is named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva. The Alash River has also inspired a couple of Tuvan songs which carry its name.
All members of Alash were trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, first learning from their families, and later becoming students of master throat singers. In 1999, as students at Kyzyl Arts College, they formed a group called Changy-Xaya. They practiced in the damp college basement on Kochetovo Street, and soon became the resident traditional ensemble on campus. At the same time they learned about western music, practiced on hybrid Tuvan-European instruments, and listened to new trends coming out of America.
Under the guidance of Kongar-ool Ondar (best known to western audiences for his role in the film Genghis Blues), they began to forge a new musical identity. They introduced the guitar and sometimes even the Russian bayan (accordion) into their arrangements, alongside their traditional Tuvan instruments. They experimented with new harmonies and song structures. The effect is an intriguing mixture of old and new.