Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alash Ensemble in Brackettville

We had an especially nice treat in Brackettville today. A group of Tuvan Throat Singers, Alash Ensemble, came to Brackett! And they were FANTASTIC! Don't be fooled by the humble set Fort Clark Springs provided for the show, Alash was amazing. Although I must apologize for these horrible photos. I didn't want to disturb the show with a flash so I made do, good thing I had my tripod. It's mostly the instruments I want to show you anyway, not as fascinating as their voices but still incredibly interesting! Hmm, that's a funny thing for me to say considering that the best instruments on the stage were the members of Alash.

They performed earlier in the day for the kids at B.I.S.D. and then later on Fort Clark Springs at the Town Hall a.k.a. the Post Theater. I desperately hope I've got them identified correctly here.

The price to get in? A mere $5, I think they cut us a deal. I'd have paid a lot more, especially now that I know how amazing they are! My mother-in-law kindly bought THEIR CD for us, I can't wait to listen to it.

Here it is, Fort Clark Town Hall. And performing? Alash Ensemble, YEA!!!!!!!!!! Awesome! And the house, small as it is, was packed. A lot of people were forced to stand which made it hard to find a good spot to shoot from. I was proud of the great turnout.

Notice below that their igils are topped with horse heads but when I look at them I think of Nessie!

Below, Ayan Shirizhik plays a kengirge & shyngyrash. Amazing as it was to hear, even more amazing was their ability to keep the beat with their voices alone. By that I mean that I could hear the beat when they were singing a capella--it actually sounded like some small percussion instrument. One of them would be throat singing solo and a capella and I could hear the chant-like drone of his voice, that beat, and what sounded like a delicate pan flute (whistling) all at once.

What, is that just a plain old guitar Bady-Dorzhu Ondar is holding? Really? Wow!

Nachyn Choodu holds a byzaanchy below.

Below is a remarkably bad photo (the lighting was hideous and it was especially bad in the corner where he stood) of Sean Quirk, Alash Ensemble's manager and interpreter. He seemed delightful, don't let the awful photo fool you.

Can you believe Bady-Dorzhu's long beautifully coiffed hair? I wish I had a better shot of it. I didn't realize until they turned sideways or around just how much work must go into cutting and styling their hair.

The instrument below is a Chadagan, it's apparently Tuvan's answer to the Zither. Or so I'm told by the graphic designer at the Alash Ensemble website, thank you Johanna!

Ayan-ool Sam plays the doshpuluur below.

Below on the left is the reason Alash Ensemble even came to Brackettville. I don't know the whole story and may be misremembering what I do [think I] remember. His name is Eliot Stone (click the linky, it's worth it--although a tiny bit of a read) and he apparently saw Alash in Austin and fell in love with their style of singing. His parents live here in Brackettville--or his family or his grandparents--I really don't remember! He hovered near the sound-board through the entire show (right where I was trying to hover with my camera), obviously anxious for the group and wanting it to go well--which it did, in spades. His love for the music was made yet more evident when he was invited on the stage to show off his own throat singing skills. VERY IMPRESSIVE! Now, that's love! If I get his story straight I'll be sure and tell it right ASAP. Both Stone and Quirk helped out with an encore which was a really nice addition.

More images like the ones above can be found HERE. The unedited originals, which include many more images, are HERE.

Here's a clip of them performing at the University of Texas, I found it on Youtube. It doesn't do their voices justice but you will certainly get a taste of how incredible they are. Or you can listen to some of their music right on THEIR WEBSITE.

12-02-2008 Update: The webmaster at the Alash Ensemble website has created a page that links to Flickr photo sets of Alash. So, my Flickr photos of Alash are now linked to their website, cool! You can check that out HERE.


Bob Johnson said...

I love their music, just came back from their site.

Genie said...

The Tuvan sound has worked its way into my brain, I love it too. The video clip shows them playing one of my favorite pieces (so far). It's about a guy and his horse. He's a bit annoyed with it and wishes it were a blanket so it could at least keep him warm. When I listen to the piece I can visualize a Tuvan astride a horse at dusk trying to find a good place to camp for the night.

I'm still reeling from that video clip on your most recent blog, wow!