On Monday, March 21, 2022, the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation held a live audience in its own “Firebay” location for the first time since 2020. The Alash Ensemble, a distinguished musical group comprised of three masters of Tuvan throat singing, performed a thrilling musical set incorporating diverse musical styles, from the Russian accordion and the acoustic guitar to traditional Tuvan strings and wind flutes.
Each of the bandmembers – Bady-Dorzhu Ondar, Ayan-ool Sam, and Ayan Shirizhik – demonstrates mastery of three styles of throat singing: khöömei, sygyt,and kargyraa. These styles contribute different sound profiles to the overall composition of the group’s original pieces, many of which exhibit a high degree of fusion evolving from decades of exchange between groups and genres all over the world. Sean Quirk, Wisconsin-native, former Fulbright scholar, and 30-year resident of the Tuvan Republic in Siberia, acts as the group’s PR manager, producer, and interpreter. Sean’s work as manager positions him as the bridge between the Tuvan world and global audiences. Speaking on the band’s behalf, he remarked upon the importance of preserving channels of cross-cultural communication and mutual understanding in the face of the adversity of the times.
The band was fortunately able to make its trip to the United States on the last available flight from Moscow in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Several of the performance’s songs came from Alash’s newest 2022 album, Embodiments, featuring rhythmic syncopation of overtones and strings inspired by hip-hop elements. The IAUNRC shares the Lotus Foundation’s excitement in continuing its Lotus Blossoms series of concerts and enrichment activities and is pleased to continue its support of future cross-cultural exchange.