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Tundra and lightning

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-11 09:52
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Albert Kuvezin, founder of Yat-Kha [Photo provided to China Daily]

Bapa was born to a Tuvan father and Russian mother in the industrial town of Ak-Dovurakthe. He learned traditional Tuvan songs and khoomei from his family and friends, "who are not professional singers, but sing very well".

"We are grateful that our ancestors gave this powerful gift to us," says Bapa, who also plays a three-stringed doshpuluur (Tuvan lute). He also adds that the technique of khoomei also has a practical purpose, which is said to calm their herding animals or attract wild animals during a hunt.

Huun-Huur-Tu's three other musicians are all masters of different styles of khoomei and Tuvan traditional musical instruments. Radik Tulush plays the four-stringed byzaanchi and flute-like shoor, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg plays his bowed two-stringed igil, while Alexei Saryglar plays the shaman drum.

The band has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, such as the US string quartet Kronos Quartet in 1997, and a DJ remix, Spirits From Tuva, in 2003. In 2004, the group was nominated for a BBC World Music Award, the most prestigious award for ethnic music.

Huun-Huur-Tu's China tour promoter and the organizer of the upcoming Stallion World Music Festival, Liu Zhao says the band's shows in China sold quickly because their music is popular with fans who are either passionate about world music or are attracted to exotic sounds. The band has given nearly 100 performances in more than 20 Chinese cities since 2014, Liu says.

Liu's company, Stellion Era Cultural Communication, represents a number of world music artists, both from China and abroad. For the first Stallion World Music Festival, Liu invited two other groups of musicians from Tuva: Yat-Kha, a band led by Albert Kuvezin, and folk singer Sainkho Namtchylak, both of whom have performed in China before and have an established fan base.

Besides live performances given by the three bands, documentaries and photo exhibitions about Tuvan culture will be showcased in both locations during the course of the music festival.

"We want to present world music from one unique culture each year during the Stallion World Music Festival," adds Liu.

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