Bardic Divas
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Bardic Divas

Almaty, Almaty, Kazakhstan | Established. Jan 01, 2007

Almaty, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Established on Jan, 2007
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"Music of Central Asia vol. 4: Bardic Divas"

Central Asia, March 2010 - Sublime bel canto lyrical songs, the guttural recitative of nomadic oral poetry, lively humoresques, and poignant laments of unrequited love comprise this panoramic survey of contemporary women’s music from Central Asia performed by some of the region’s leading singers. 18 Tracks, 59 minutes, 48-page colour booklet, photos, and song lyrics; DVD contains series introduction, 24-minute film, interactive glossary, and map.

Music of Central Asia is a co-production of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The aim of the series is to present leading exponents of Central Asia's rich and diverse musical heritage to listeners outside the region. - AKDN

"Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics and Troubadours"

Seventeen musicians from Central Asia, a culturally dynamic and rapidly changing region, will share their mastery of traditions at once ancient and contemporary in an 11-city North American tour beginning on October 12th. The tour, “Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics, and Troubadours,” will provide North American audiences with a rare opportunity to hear music from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Qaraqalpakstan (an autonomous region in Uzbekistan). Concerts will feature a panoramic range of vocal and instrumental music that showcases some of Central Asia’s finest performers.

Female entertainers have played a key role in the social life of Central Asia women and continue to do so today. The artists assembled under the name Bardic Divas feature two singers from Kazakhstan and two from Qaraqalpakstan, and together represent diverse performance traditions centered around the solo voice. Ulzhan Baibussynova is a jyrau – an epic singer and one of the first women of her young generation to master this traditionally male Kazakh art form. Her voice is reflected in the raspy, guttural recitative in which she recites Kazakh oral poetry. Joining her is Ardak Issataeva, from the Jambul region of Kazakhstan, who currently teaches lyrical song at the Conservatory of Almaty. - AKDN


Still working on that hot first release.



Ulzhan Baibussynova vocal, dombra (Kazakhstan)

Raushan Orozbaeva Qyl-qobyz (Kazakstan)

Nodira Pirmatova vocal, dutar, tanbur (Uzbekistan)

Bardic Divas celebrates the artistic talent and diverse performance traditions of  exceptional female singers and instrumentalists from Central Eurasia. The divas presented in this concert come from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Each performer is a master of a culturally unique tradition that has evolved within its own social and artistic world. Some of these traditions are specific to female performers and have typically been performed within a social milieu restricted to women. In other cases, female musicians have appropriated traditions dominated by men. These days, women are well represented in the performing arts of Central Eurasiaindeed, many of the regions best known and most respected singers and instrumentalists of recent years have been women.

The Silk Road serves as an enduring symbol of

humanity joined together by trade and cultural

exchange. At the very centre of the Silk Road lands,

amid the vast steppe and great oasis cities of Central

Asia, two very different civilizations nomadic and

sedentary preserve their own distinctive patterns

of culture. In this programme, four talented young

artists represent contemporary face of their heritage,

music shaped both by the intimate relationship of

pastoralists to the natural world, and by social and

spiritual needs of small clan-bound communities.

Kazakh singer Ulzhan Baibussynova illustrates the venerable tradition of the bards solo performers of oral poetry and short didactic songs who typically accompany themselves on a strummed lute with silk or gut strings. Female bards were once rare, but Ulzhan, who sings in the guttural style of the bards known as zhyrau, is in the vanguard of a generation of young women challenging traditional gender boundaries in nomadic music. Another dimension of nomadic performing arts is represented by Raushan Orozbaeva, a master performer on the qyl qobyz, an archaic two-stringed fiddle historically linked to shamanic practices. Uzbekistans repertoires of folk and classical music is represented by Nodira Pirmatova, an accomplished vocalist whose contralto voice is the perfect instrument for the lyrical melodies of Sufi-inspired spiritual songs.


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