Musicians from Central Asia Bring Ancient Traditions to Life

October 2, 2007

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057,
For The Public: 585/274-1110

Seventeen artists from Central Asia will showcase the diverse musical traditions of their countries at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in Kilbourn Hall as part of the Eastman School of Music’s World Music Series.

“Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics, and Troubadours” will include vocal and instrumental music from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Qaraqalpakstan; documentary films about the featured musicians; supertitles with translations of song lyrics; and video close-up images of the performers. Tickets are $18, $12, and $8 (discount with UR ID) and can be purchased at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone at (585) 454-2100; and online at

Music has occupied a unique place in Central Asia for centuries, serving as a means of expressing social identity, preserving spiritual practices and beliefs, cultivating the performance of poetry, and transmitting history, philosophy, and ethics. Though cultural traditions languished under Soviet rule, the region’s musical legacy is being recovered and revitalized since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Performers for this concert include the Badkakhshan Ensemble, who perform “maddah” devotional songs), “baraka” (songs of lament), and “khalqi” popular songs), with occasional accompanying dance. The Bardic Divas have a repertoire that includes examples of traditionally male musical forms such as “jyrau,” songs delivered in a raspy, guttural timbre. Rounding out the program is singer Alim Qasimov, a virtuoso in both the classical music called “mugham” and the rural bardic tradition of “ashiq,” and his daughter Fargana Qasimova.

The World Music Series continues next year with the Japanese chamber music group Ensemble East on Thursday, Feb. 7, followed by the Afro-Brazilian troupe Ologundê on Tuesday, March 25, and Gamelan Lila Muni, the Eastman School’s Balinese percussion ensemble, on Tuesday, April 29.

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Calendar listing:
Thursday, October 18
8 p.m.
World Music Series: Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia: Nomads, Mystics, and Troubadours
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.
Tickets $18, $12, $8 (discount with UR ID), on sale starting Tuesday, Sept. 4, at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone, (585) 454-2100; and online at
Information number: (585) 274-1110