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"Various Quotes"

"Alash...pretty much knocked everybody's socks off, receiving a standing ovation after the final song."

Pegasus News, Southern Methodist University, April 13, 2007

"There are plenty of recordings of Tuvan throat singing out there, but they can't compare to witnessing such sonic magic in real time."

Washington Post, June 21, 2007

"The crowd, many of whom were expecting bluegrass, gave them a standing ovation."

Metro Plus, Knoxville, TN, June 4 2007

- Various

"Alash to tour with Flecktones"

Flecktones With Guest Elves Edgar Meyer, Andy Statman & Tuvan Throat Singers ‘The Alash Ensemble’ Contribute Renditions Of Everything From Bach To Rudolph, With Tributes To Joni Mitchell & Vince Guaraldi

U.S. Fall & Winter Tour Dates Announced

"Heavyweight players who make an endearing fusion, the Flecktones have a fine time roaming all over the musical map... it’s hard to resist a band that draws on bluegrass, funk, world music, pop and jazz with such glee and blissful lack of pretension." – Entertainment Weekly

“Can you throat-sing “Jingle Bells?” asked banjo master Béla Fleck to Tuvan throat singer, Avan-ool Sam, a vocalist who can carry and harmonize two simultaneous musical lines. Welcome to the world of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones! This unearthly, endearing rendition is only one chapter of the musical adventure that is Jingle All The Way (September 30th / Rounder Records), the first holiday collection of the Flecktones’ blazing 20-year career. -

"Alash and Marshall Allen"

Alash Ensemble, Marshall Allen

If you weren't at Warehouse Theater on Tuesday, you missed one of the most surprising and breathtaking double-bills to blow through Washington this year. Tuvan throat singers the Alash Ensemble and legendary avant-jazz saxophonist Marshall Allen offered so many feats-of-breath, the gig should have been sponsored by the American Lung Association.

The Alash Ensemble's opening set was utterly stunning. The young quartet specializes in an ancient vocal style cultivated by the shepherds and horsemen of central Asia who discovered ways of singing three or four notes simultaneously. Imagine a subsonic growl, a bullfrog's croak, some electric barber's clippers and a high-frequency whistle -- all reverberating out of a single larynx at once.

With a single, sustained breath, each member's voice would glide over the music's loping rhythms as they plucked and bowed an array of stringed instruments, one of which was made from a horse's skull. There are plenty of recordings of Tuvan throat singing out there, but they can't compare to witnessing such sonic magic in real time.

Once audience members picked their jaws up off the floor, 83-year-old Allen shuffled onstage and led his quintet into a righteous racket. Clad in a shiny gold baseball cap, the octogenarian -- who spent most of his career performing alongside the late jazz pioneer Sun Ra -- swiped at the keys of his sax like a petulant teenager slashing away at a guitar. He blew his horn into a soulful frenzy, then seemed to delight in slowing things to a crawl before erupting into another fit of squeals and squawks.

The two groups crammed onto the stage for a final set, but Alash's steady gallop didn't leave much room for Allen and company to find their footing. Maybe that was for the better -- it gave everyone in the audience a chance to catch their breath
- The Washington Post

"Innovative Tuvan throat singers Alash touring America"

The throat singing ensemble Alash is currently touring North America (see tour dates below). The tour started in April and continues until June 30, when they return to Tuva.

Alash’s music is firmly grounded in cultural and spiritual traditions of Tuva, a remote Russian Republic on the Siberian-Mongolian border, but incorporates newer sounds. "We like to play within the great range of expression that the tradition offers, finding areas where our knowledge of complex rhythms and western harmonies mesh well with the traditional sound and feel of Tuvan music,” says ensemble member Mai-ool Sedip.

The Alash ensemble is among the first of a new generation of Tuvan musicians who have matured in the musically fertile and adventurous post-communist period in Tuva, says Sedip.

“We are inspired by the music of our grandparents, and their grandparents, and all the great Tuvan and Central Asian musicians of the post-Soviet era - Tuva Ensemble, Huun-Huur-Tu, Chirgilchin, Sarymai, Andrei Mongush and Alexander Sarzhat-ool,” notes Sedip. “We are also influenced by Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. We compose new songs, and arrange songs that we remember from childhood, such as "Saryglar."

The Alash Ensemble from Tuva in Inner Asia toured North America for the first time in Spring, 2006 through the Open World Leadership Program of the Library of Congress, performing and teaching on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The group released its first U.S. CD, “Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden,” featuring its sold-out performance at the Enchanted Garden in Ridgefield, CT on March 17, 2006.

During the summer of 2006, the group performed in a Mongolian festival in Taiwan honoring the 800th anniversary of Genghis Khan, traveled, performed and taught in Poland, and participated in Tuva’s well-known Üstüü-Hüree Festival in Chadaan. In September 2006, Alash’s members performed with the Tuvan National Folk Orchestra, which won the grand prize in the All-Russia Competition of National Orchestras and Ensembles in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia.

The Alash Ensemble was founded in 1999 in the basement of the Kyzyl Arts College in Tuva’s capital city. The group, originally known as Changy-Xaya, became the resident traditional ensemble at the school.

The group learned more about traditional Tuvan music from the well-known master Xoomeizhi (throat singer) Kongar-ool Ondar, but they also began to learn about Western classical music and such concepts as harmony, theory and staff notation.

The members of Alash perform on traditional Tuvan instruments as well as hybrids of Tuvan instruments and violins and cellos. They find these Western instruments appealing, and have begun exploring the new sound worlds that have arisen from their unique, dual musical consciousness.

For more information, see
The members of the ensemble acknowledge the influence of many diverse sources - Tuvan and otherwise - in their work. Ondar has played a key role in the life of the ensemble since its early days as its artistic director, encouraging and guiding the group’s formation as an ensemble.
- World Music Central

"Alash-Throats of Glory"

Last Friday, the first day of the new month, three incredible Tuvan throat singers performed at Barnes Hall. Following a demonstration and informal concert the night before, the three young men of Alash performed a single breath-taking set, and at the end of just over an hour, left the astounded crowd staggering out the door.

The reason why the concert was so astounding is because the performers seemed to demonstrate superhuman powers using their vocal chords. Think of throat singing a little bit like a bagpipe: While the bagpipe player holds one low note on drone the entire song he can also float a melodic line over that drone.

By channeling the air flow from your airstream successfully to both a lower “chest” voice and a higher “head” voice it is possible for you to vocalize two crystal clear notes simultaneously. But it’s a possibility that’s only realized after years and years of constantly honing the technique. As Alash’s manager and close friend told us from the stage, “If you ask these young men how long they’ve been singing, they’ll tell you that they’ve been singing since they can remember.”

The technique is an ancient one. While Tuva, which sits near southern Siberia, has been part of Mongolian, Chinese, and most recently, Soviet empires, it’s also able to maintain its own unique heritage throughout. Alash performed all of its songs in Tuvan, one of the least spoken languages still thriving in the world.

The instrumentation is just as old as the culture itself. In fact, one mythical hero invented the two-stringed Igil, bowed with the hair of a horse, after receiving a vision of it in an epic dream. At the end of the neck sits a horse’s head to remind us of the horse in that hero’s dream.

Along with the Igil, Alash accompanied themselves with the Doshpuluur, basically a three-stringed banjo, and a giant kettle drum played lightly with leather-wrapped hand mallets. The combination of these three-instruments is the ideal arrangement of melody, accompaniment and rhythm.

With all three locked in, the vocal lines run through the music constantly; many times the songs delivered a steady stream of lyrics. While all of them were entirely incomprehensible, the road manager did us the pleasure of giving us all kinds of translations. At first he saiid most of the songs were about beautiful girls and good horses, when he elaborated on such a blunt statement with lines from the pieces, like: “I am a boy, song of man / I am like a bead in a beautiful woman’s hair.”

Not everything about Alash is ancient, though. Towards the end of a song, the manager announced a song about tractors, not women and horses, which was written as Communist propaganda custom made for the land of Tuva.

In addition, these musicians have expressed that music of the past decade has inspired them to include modern sounds in their repertoire. It is this effortless combination of age-old and modern day cultures that makes Alash such a phenomenon.

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Kyzyl-Moscow Festival 2004 (2004, Sketis)
Alash - Live at the Enchanted Garden (2006)
Alash (2007)
Jingle all the Way (2008) [Guest artist on Grammy-winning Flecktones Album]



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. Alongside their traditional Tuvan instruments, they introduced the guitar and sometimes even the Russian bayan (accordion) into their arrangements. They experimented with new harmonies and song structures. The effect is an intriguing mixture of old and new.

Alash is firmly rooted in both the sonically awesome ancient world of Tuvan music with its sonic communication with nature, and in the global world of diverse music and musical thought. The music of Tuva is unlike any other music in the world, and yet is found approachable by groups as diverse as truckers, frat boys, jazzcats, tour kids, retired people, little kids, and on and on. Indeed, even though the music of Tuva is unique, it blends amazingly well with many different types of music while maintaining its own identity, and this is one of the ensemble's many strong points.

All of the musicians have grown up in a mix of rural, traditional, yurt-dwelling nomadic background and urban education in the capital of Tuva, Kyzyl. They are familiar with the traditions of the ancient past as well as the ways of the modern world.

Recently, Alash member Bady-Dorzhu Ondar was named "People's Xoomeizhi (Throat-Singer) of the Republic of Tuva," and also won the grand prize in the 2008 Symposium of Throat Singing. In the same symposium, Ayan-ool Sam and Ayan Shirizhik won second and third prizes for their solos, and Nachyn and his wife Shonchalai won first prize among groups for their duet.

American-born musician and researcher Sean Quirk serves as presenter and translator at Alash performances. A Fulbright Scholar and Merited Artist of Tuva who has lived in Tuva for five years, Quirk provides a cultural bridge to give audiences deeper insight into the fascinating phenomenon of Tuvan music.