The Harriman Institute at Columbia University presents Central Asian
University Residencies: the Kyrgyz Cultural Performances Project in
collaboration with the Central Asian Cultural Exchange (CACE) and the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the United States.
March 6 through March 10, 2006
Kyrgyz Cultural Performances is a series of residencies at U.S. universities and cultural institutions. The participants are Dr. Helen Faller, an anthropologist who specializes in Central Asia and international exchange, and two Kyrgyz performers - Rysbai Isakov, a renowned singer of the Kyrgyz national epic Manas and Akylbek Kasabolotov, a virtuoso folk musician. During their residencies, these two performers will teach audiences about Kyrgyz oral literature and musical traditions, with Dr. Faller introducing
their work and providing interpretative contextualization.
Isakov and Kasabolotov will perform a concert at Columbia on Thursday, March 9th at 6:30pm (Kellogg Center, 15th Floor, International Affairs Building). A trilogy said to be over a thousand years old, Manas contains over a half a
million lines and is considered the longest recorded epic in the world. It focuses on the lives - from miraculous birth to glorious death - of three generations of ancient heroes: Manas, his son Semetey, and Semetey's son Seytek. Episodes of Manas colorfully depict the valiant exploits of these and other brave warriors - their magnificent feasts, weddings, and of course countless glorious raging battles. This performance will enrich the mystical
experience of seeing Manas presented in a concert setting. While Manas is traditionally performed without accompaniment, this production innovatively incorporates a Kyrgyz folk musician. As the manaschy recites, employing a catalogue of gestures and facial expressions to emphasize certain moments of the epic, the musician improvises upon Kyrgyz musical themes, changing instruments and timbres according to what the actions occurring in the epic evoke for him.
The Kyrgyz Manas Workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 7th at 6:30pm (Room 1219 International Affairs Building). It will be led by Rysbai Isakov, Akylbek Kasabolov and Dr. Faller. Dr. Faller will provide the audience with background on the Manas. Background topics will include a brief history of the Manas, a description of the traditional settings in which it is recited, and a synopsis of the episode the audience is about to hear. Isakov and Kasabolotov will teach the audience some key gestures and recurring words used in reciting the Manas.
The core mission of Central Asian University Residencies is to use art exchanges to increase cross-cultural understanding between people in the United States and the culturally Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. These regions include the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in Central Asia; Azerbaijan in the Caucasus; and Muslim regions of the Russian Federation.
The project takes a novel approach to teaching Americans about Central Asian cultures. Using face-to-face contact with cultural ambassadors from Central Asia, it exposes U.S. audiences to information about Muslims and Islam that is sensational without being sensationalist.
For further information and for educational resources, please see http://www.harrimaninstitute.org/programs/central_asian_events.html.
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