Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Breaking Philadelphia News!

Both our Philadelphia engagements fell through and we were wondering why we were visiting the City of Brotherly Love (except that the Roksonaki Impressario misses her husband to bits). But there's been an exciting new development.

Roksonaki has been invited to stop by Pasion y Arte's juerga flamenco jam session on April 4.

Time: 7 pm
Date: Friday, April 4
Location: 230 N. 2nd Street (two blocks north of Market Street. Take the El to 2nd and Market and walk north), Casino Free Philadelphia offices

Come out and support us. CDs and t-shirts for sale!
Check out www.pasionyarte.com.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Madison, Wisconsin!

A group picture with an adoring class at John Muir Elementary School in Madison. They sought us out after our performance in front of the whole school. The kids were so attentive that one of their questions about the Kazakh kui Akku was "What happened to the son after he killed the swan?" Another child wanted to know what kind of snake it was that bit Korkut Ata.

Our best show yet! The energy in the Memorial Union Great Hall was so powerful that none of us could get to sleep after our March 26 concert. We're in Chicago now and still a little worn out. We have three concerts in the Windy City. Don't miss them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nauryz Party in Ann Arbor, Michigan

We were honored to have a party thrown for us on Easter Eve - or the night of Nauryz, March 22 - at the home of some of our biggest Ann Arbor fans. The lamb was delicious and the turkey bigger than any we had ever seen. We loved the smoked salmon, the beer and the rum. The hospitality was downright Kazakh in its generosity. Thanks much to our good friends, our new family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We hope you come to Kazakhstan soon so that we can have the chance to host you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Link to Roksonaki music samples

To hear what Roksonaki sounds like check out http://www.myspace.com/roksonaki.

The day after Roksonaki played Bult Shakyru (Invitation to the Cloud or Call for Rain) in the University of Michigan's brand spanking new Penny Stamps Auditorium - shown below - it snowed 10 inches and the roads were covered with ice! The forecast was for flurries with a maximum possible accumulation of 4 inches... That's some powerful music!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And another photo....

Playing in the studios at WFMU. Program to be broadcast March 29, 2008. See www.wfmu.org for details.

Photo Bonanza!

We've been so busy playing and teaching that we haven't had a chance to work on the tour blog. So, here are some pictures worth thousands of words.

Jamming with Friar Ed at Stony Brook!

Riding the NYC subway

Lady Liberty in the background. Left to right: Axat Kara, Ruslan Kara, Dina Amirova - a nuclear family with many talents...

Galymzhan Sekeyev teaches a student at Ann Arbor's Community High School how to play the shankobyz.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Asia Society Concert a Big Success!

Roksonaki's reception thus far has been great! The people at Stony Brook were amazingly hospitable - special thanks to Sunita and Jennifer and to everyone else who looked after us there.

We had such a good time doing the show at the Asia Society on March 9. The audience was very enthusiastic and we really appreciated the reception and the delicious Burmese meal afterwards. In the picture you'll see Galymzhan, Ruslan, and Yerlan doing the encore - an acapella version of Eligai straight out of a Kazakh barbershop. Thanks to Nik Krastev at RFE/RL for sharing the photo.

Jam Session, Club DROM

Roksonaki will appear at Club DROM Thursday, March 13. Please come and watch them jam with the NY Gypsy All-Stars.

85 Avenue A, between 5th and 6th.

Check out www.dromnyc.com.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Roksonaki CDs available soon!

Roksonaki will have two new CDs for sale during the Nauryz Tour - Evolution and New Songs. Evolution will feature Roksonaki's best tunes sampled from all the work they have created since they came into existence in 1990. New Songs will be full of surprises. Ruslan Kara has been hard at work recording brand new tracks that emerge from improvisations with a Kazakh shaman (or baksy). The sound is more deeply Roksy than you can imagine.

Fans will be able to buy both CDs at our shows in New York, Ann Arbor, Madison, Chicago and Washington, DC. Once the tour is over, CDs will be available from newly launched Mosaiqa Records by mail order at www.mosaiqa.com.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nauryz with Roksonaki Calendar


Please email helen@mosaiqa.com with any questions you have about our schedule.

March 4 - April 11, 2008 Calendar

March 4
Depart from Almaty,
Arrive JFK Airport

March 7

Stony Brook University

Wang Center

Stony Brook, NY
8 pm Tickets: $15 gen’l admis. $10 students

March 8

Novruz Family Day
Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)

New York, NY




March 9

Kazakh Traditional Music Workshop

5:30 pm

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)
New York, NY
Tickets: $20

March 20

Penny Stamps Auditorium
North Campus
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
8 pm

March 26

Great Hall
Memorial Union

800 Langdon St.

University of Wisconsin

Madison, WI
7 pm

March 28
Music Without Borders
Chicago Cultural Center

78 E. Washington Street

Chicago, IL
12:15 pm

March 31

University of Chicago
Ida Noyes Hall
1212 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

7 pm

April 1

Northeastern Illinois University
Rm C-627
5500 N. St. Louis Ave.

7 pm


April 4


University of Pennsylvania


April 5


Carnegie Institution
1530 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

Tickets: $30

4 pm-11 pm!

Includes a feast, games, performances.

To purchase tickets see https://www.brownpapertickets.com/viewsales.html?e_id=29162

For directions see http://www.ciw.edu/about/directions

April 6


Copley Hall
Georgetown University

3700 O Street, NW
2 pm

April 8
Concert/Public Lecture on Kazakh Music
Camp Concert Hall in Booker Hall of Music
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA

April 11
Depart for Almaty

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Roksonaki to Tour Six US cities, including Washington, DC

The Central Asian Cultural Exchange presents Roksonaki – Kazakhstan’s most experimental neotraditionalist musical group – in a six-city tour of the US.

March 4 through April 11, 2008

Roksonaki formed in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 1990 under the direction of Ruslan Kara, who sought to create new music using motifs drawn from Eurasia’s indigenous religious traditions. Roksonaki pioneered the creation of arrangements that integrate ancient Kazakh instrumentation – the traditional kylkobyz, shankobyz, sazsyrnai and dombra – with contemporary rock music and jazz. Roksonaki’s fresh approach immediately attracted a lot of attention and they received the prestigious Aziia Dausy/Voice of Asia Award at the very beginning of their career.

Nauryz with Roksonaki is a series of residencies at U.S. universities and cultural institutions beginning March 4 touring the Kazakh band Roksonaki in a month-long celebration of the Central Asian holiday Nauryz. Nauryz with Roksonaki will stage a variety of performances, including mesmerizing concerts and musically accompanied workshops on traditional Kazakh culture:

• The Wisdom of Kazakh Fairytales
• Kazakh Folk Music and Instruments
• The Meaning of the Nauryz Holiday

A cutting edge educational experience, Nauryz with Roksonaki embeds visceral performance experiences in scholarly knowledge to create immediate meaning for audiences who have the uncommonly rare opportunity to learn about Central Asian culture directly from the source. 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 people from Muslim countries that is sensational without being sensationalist. Specially developed innovative educational materials – maps, descriptions of Kazakh fairytales, translations of Roksonaki songs, descriptions of traditional Kazakh musical instruments and Nauryz, a traditional Kazakh musical score, and Internet resources – provide intellectual reinforcement for the tour’s unforgettable and magical experiences.

Nauryz with Roksonaki also launches Mosaiqa Records, a new label featuring Central Eurasia’s most exciting performing artists. For more information, see www.mosaiqa.com.

Venues for workshop activities will be university classrooms, conferences, and schools. Workshops and concerts are arranged by the tour’s generous hosting institutions – Asia Society, the Chicago Cultural Center, Georgetown University, Northeastern Illinois University, Stony Brook University, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago, University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, Roksonaki will headline a Gala Nauryz Celebration in Washington, DC on April 5, organized in collaboration with the Kazakhstan Embassy. For specifics on dates and venues please see www.cace.us or www.mosaiqa.com.

The participants are Dr. Helen Faller, an anthropologist who specializes in Central Asia and international exchange, Roksonaki – Ruslan Kara, Yerlan Sabitov, and Galymzhan Sekeyev – and Dr. Dina Amirova, ethnomusicologist. Roksonaki first exposed Americans to their virtuosity in 2002 when the group performed for two and a half weeks, sometimes playing with Yo Yo Ma, at the Smithsonian Institution’s largest ever Folklife Festival on the Washington, DC Mall.

Roksonaki’s concerts attracted thousands of devoted fans, who still rave about their music. One enthusiastic fan explained, “Roksonaki seemed to personify the concept [of the festival] – old traditions moving ahead into the future. The energy that the group put into their performances was immediately picked up and by the audience and sent back to them.” Another said, “I was very taken with them – their artistry, versatility and wide range of musical styles. What a breath of fresh air in popular music! I was one of the lucky ones to see them play with Yo Yo Ma. What a treat!” Roksonaki has treated audiences at many other festivals at home and abroad – in Canada, Germany, Turkey, and several former Soviet states.

Over time, Roksonaki’s musical inspirations have become increasingly shamanic. Their music is part of a Central Asian movement to return to pre-Islamic belief systems that is growing in tandem and sometimes in conflict with the region’s Islamic revival. It draws power from Kazakhs’ historically nomadic existence on the ancient Silk Road and influences from musical traditions spanning from North Africa to neighboring China.

Ruslan Kara still heads up Roksonaki. Currently the Artistic Director of Kazakstan Records, Ruslan composes all of Roksonaki’s music, sings, and plays guitar and percussion. The other two band members are master traditional musicians Galymzhan Sekeyev and Yerlan Sabitov. Roksonaki’s manager Dr. Dina Amirova, a renowned ethnomusicologist employed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to help preserve Kazakhstan’s cultural heritage, collaborated with Dr. Faller in creating the program’s ground-breaking educational materials. She will travel with the band and participate in the performances.

About Nauryz

Nauryz is a Pre-Islamic non-religious New Year holiday, celebrated for the month of March, in Central Asia and the Middle East coinciding with the Spring Equinox. “Nauryz” derives from the Persian “Novruz” meaning “New Day.” At its core, Nauryz celebrates the awakening of nature and symbolizes the triumph of good over the evil forces of darkness represented by Winter. Traditional Nauryz activities include competitions in horse racing, singing, dancing, games, wrestling, and the aitys – an improvisational contest among two or more poet-musicians bearing a similarity to African American freestyle hiphop battles. During Nauryz, it is customary for each household to share its dastarkhan (or table) generously, proffering the finest delicacies – kazy, karta, shujik – made from lamb and horse and a special yoghurt soup dish made from seven ingredients. To receive a blessing on Nauryz from the lips of an elder is considered a great honor and mark of kindness.

About the Program

Nauryz with Roksonaki is the third project Dr. Faller has created since she started working with the Central Asian Cultural Exchange in 2006. The first project, Kyrgyz Cultural Performances, featured residency activities at nine universities, seven schools, and four cultural centers with master Kyrgyz manaschy (epic singer) Rysbai Isakov and gifted traditional musician Akylbek Kasabolotov. The second project consisted of dumpling tastings in San Francisco and Chicago in June 2007 to support research for an ethnographic cookbook of Silk Road dumpling recipes. The goal of these works is to use cultural exchange to increase understanding between people in the United States and the culturally Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. These regions include, but are not limited to, the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in Central Asia; Azerbaijan in the Caucasus Region; and Muslim regions of the Russian Federation.

Nauryz with Roksonaki is a program of the Central Asian Cultural Exchange, with collaboration from the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States of America. Generously supported by Air Astana, Lancaster Group, the Kazakh-American Business Association, Keleshek Kazakhstan Public Foundation, Turkish Airways and the participating institutions. For more information please contact Dr. Faller at helen@mosaiqa.com.

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Note to editors: Photos of previous Roksonaki performances available upon request.