NEW Sounds from Kazakhstan
Asia Society presents a special performance on Sunday March 9 at 7:00 p.m. by the musical group Roksonaki, who have pioneered the creation of a unique sound that integrates ancient Kazakh instrumentation and nomadic music tradition with contemporary rock and jazz.
Ethnomusicologist Helen Faller discusses traditional Kazak music and Roksonaki’s influences in a pre-performance lecture/demonstration at 6:00 p.m. that evening.
“Asia Society is thrilled to present this unique and rare opportunity to learn about Central Asian culture directly from Kazakhstan's most talented avant garde artists,” says Rachel Cooper, Director of Cultural Programs, Asia Society. “Americans have precious few avenues for exploring Kazakh culture and musical heritage, which is influenced by traditions spanning the Silk Road from North Africa to neighboring China.”
Roksonaki formed in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 1990 under the direction of singer-composer Ruslan Kara, who sought to create new music using motifs drawn from Eurasia’s indigenous religious traditions. Roksonaki integrates contemporary rock and jazz with traditional Kazakh instruments such as the kylkobyz, shankobyz, sazsyrnai and dombra. The group, which received accolades for their appearance at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in 2002, has performed with Yo Yo Ma and at festivals and concerts in Canada, Germany, Turkey and several former Soviet states.
Ticket prices for the March 9 performance are $16 for Asia Society members/students/seniors and $20 for nonmembers. For tickets and information, call (212) 517-ASIA or visit www.AsiaSociety.org. Members of the press interested in the performance should contact Asia Society’s public relations department at 212.327.9271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roksonaki is visiting the U.S. for a month long tour, Nauryz with Roksonaki, in celebration of the Central Asian holiday Nauryz, a folk celebration of the spring equinox. Beginning on March 4, the group will participate in a series of residencies at U.S. universities and cultural institutions. In addition to performing a concert at Asia Society on March 9, Roksonaki will perform during Asia Society Museum’s Family Day: Spring into Norouz, a special celebration of the Persian New Year, on Saturday, March 8 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Free with Museum admission; under 16 free.
Workshops and concerts are arranged by the tour’s hosting institutions which include Asia Society, the Chicago Cultural Center, Georgetown University, Northeastern Illinois University, Stony Brook University, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago, University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For specifics on dates and venues please see www.cace.us or www.mosaiqa.com.
Nauryz is a Pre-Islamic non-religious New Year celebration, celebrated for the month of March, in Central Asia and the Middle East that coincides with the Spring Equinox. “Nauryz” derives from the Persian “Noruz” meaning “New Day.” At its core, Nauryz celebrates the awakening of nature and symbolizes the triumph of good over the evil forces of darkness represented by Winter. Traditional Nauryz activities include competitions in horse racing, singing, dancing, games, wrestling, and the aitys – an improvisational contest among two or more poet-musicians bearing a similarity to African American freestyle hiphop. During Nauryz it is customary for each household to share its dastarkhan (or table) generously, proffering the finest delicacies – kazy, karta, shujik – made from lamb and horse and a special yoghurt soup dish made from seven ingredients. To receive a blessing on Nauryz from the lips of an elder is considered a great honor and mark of kindness.