Altai Kai Throat Singers with Stephen Kent
Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 7:30pm
The members of Altai Kai are throat singing virtuosos, skilled in the different styles and variations of kai (the Altai word for throat singing) and folk instruments. Their velvety, low-pitched kargyraa, mesmerizing khoomei, and melodic sygyt place the listener amidst forests of singing birds, gurgling brooks, and the growls of nighttime predators. Throat singing and the ringing melodies of the khomus (jaw harp), topshur (two-stringed lute) and accordion all come together to form the sound of Altai Kai.
Stories of nature's beauty and mighty folk heroes are accompanied by jocular melodies, dancing rhythms, and shamanic mysteries. The narrators skillfully relate traditional, sacred tales and epics of centuries past.
The ensemble was founded in 1997 by Urmat Yntaev, with the goal of preserving and cultivating the traditional culture of the Republic of Altai. Today the group is a laureate of multiple national and international competitions . In 2003, they were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest performance of throat singing. They are members of the Folklore Union of Russia, and the International Organization of Folk Art (an NGO accredited by UNESCO). Altai Kai made their international debut at WOMEX 2007 in Sevilla, Spain.
About Altai and the group's relationship with nature:
The Altai people have strong values of stewardship of the land. The region is home to the Golden Mountains of Altai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The land is remote and largely untouched, fostering unparalleled biodiversity. Altai Kai's 2017 album Altai Tele was dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the Altai Nature Reserve, a part of the Golden Mountains of Altai. The group's collaboration with the Reserve began in 2014 with their album Altai Kabai (Altai Lullaby). The compositions on that album praise the natural sites and flora and fauna of Altai. The group creates music to encourage appreciation of nature and inspire stewardship of the land in younger generations. They are popular in Altai and their 2017 debut performances of Altai Tele were sold out well in advance.
A globally acclaimed player of the ancient Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo for over 30 years Stephen Kent has pioneered its use in contemporary music across the world, collaborating with leading musicians such as Brazil's Airto Moreira, India's Zakir Hussain, Tuva’s Chirgilchin, American Indian flute legend R.Carlos Nakai and Habib Koite from Mali, to name a few. His ground breaking band projects, Baraka Moon, Trance Mission and Lights in a Fat City have received widespread acclaim. As a solo performer, touring in 5 continents, he is a virtual one-man-band, producing an extraordinary layering of sounds and grooves and creating an almost orchestral ambience with this primal instrument, accompanying himself on all manner of shakers and hand percussion on musical journeys that travel deep into the heart of the earth. A commanding storyteller to boot, his dynamic performing style is highly entertaining and he revels in inviting the audience in on the journey. Stephen is also a respected radio producer, hosting KPFA’s Music of the World (and now Off the Beaten Path) for the past 23 years. "If you're skeptical about being swept away by someone blowing through a hollowed-out tree branch you're in for a big surprise" San Francisco Weekly.