Named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva, the group was mentored by under vocalist Kongar-ool Ondar (best known to western audiences for his role in the film Genghis Blues). Its members were trained in traditional Tuvan music during childhood, first learning from their families, and later becoming students of master throat singers. They formed the group in 1999 when they were all students at Kyzyl Arts College, practicing in a damp basement and soon becoming the campus’s resident traditional ensemble. At the same time they learned about Western music, practiced on hybrid Tuvan-European instruments, and listened to new trends coming out of America. In 2002, they began to forge a new musical identity: They introduced the guitar and the Russian bayan (accordion) into their arrangements, alongside their traditional Tuvan instruments and experimented with new harmonies and song structures. The effect is an intriguing mixture of old and new.
Alash Ensemble will perform at the Rosendale Cafe in Rosendale, New York, on Saturday, September 27 at 8pm. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (845) 658-9048 or visit http://www.rosendalecafe.com/.