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Sunbeams from the north

By Chen Nan | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-21 08:18
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Huun Huur Tu, a four-member ensemble from Tuva, is touring Chinese cities in September, with old songs accompanied by traditional musical instruments and throat singing. CHINA DAILY

Popular throat singing musicians from the Tuva Republic make return to China with five-city tour, Chen Nan reports.

If you journey to the Tuva Republic in the Russian Federation, you will reach the home of Huun Huur Tu, a group of fascinating khoomei singers dedicated to performing old and forgotten songs with traditional and contemporary musical instruments.

The quartet, which made its debut in China back in 2008, gained a large fan base after embarking on its first major tour in the country in 2014.

This September, the group will return with a tour of Chinese cities — Beijing, Suzhou in Jiangsu province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Shanghai — from Sept 21 to 27, featuring songs, such as Ancestors, The Orphan's Lament and Remembering Ulaatai River.

They will also perform on the opening day of the outdoor Central China Midi Festival, which will take place from Sept 29 to Oct 2 at a resort in Nanyang city, Henan province, located between Dushan Mountain and Baihe River.

"It has been four years since we last performed in China. We will perform some of our favorite songs. We have many great memories of performing in China and, hopefully, the songs will ignite the memories of the audiences," says Sayan Bapa, a member of Huun Huur Tu.

"Since we all live deep in the forest, we dedicate those songs to the beauty of nature and the people who were born, raised and still live there," Bapa says, adding that, with lyrics translated and displayed as subtitles during their concerts, Chinese audiences will be able to understand what the songs are about and learn about the history and culture of their home country.

He recalls that when they first performed in China, some people might have had no idea what they were doing, but the feedback was great, which made the members of the band very happy.

"For those who have never been to our concerts, I think their ears, eyes and minds will be surprised," Bapa says. "People told us that they enjoy our music, just like they enjoy nature, the fresh air and clean water."

The quartet, made up of singers and musicians Sayan Bapa, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Radik Tyulyush and Alexey Saryglar, was founded in 1992. Some of them are old friends and have played music together since the 1970s.

Huun Huur Tu means "sunshine" or "sunbeams" in Tuvan. It also refers to the vertical separation of light rays that can often be seen out on the grasslands just after sunrise or just before sunset.

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