Central Asian Virtuoso Musicians to be Artists-In-Residence at UW-Madison

Untitled Document


DATE: 2/14/06

CONTACT: Lara Kain, Outreach Coordinator, Center for Russia, East Europe and
Central Asia (CREECA), (608) 265-6298, outreach@creeca.wisc.edu


Madison, WI – UW-Madison students as well as music lovers in the greater
Madison area will have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about Central
Asian music and culture when two Kyrgyz performers take up a Central Asian
University Residencies program at UW-Madison March 19 through 23, 2006.

performers, Rysbai Isakov, a laureate epic singer, and Akylbek Kasabolotov, a
virtuoso folk musician and member of Kyrgyzstan’s Tengir Too Ensemble,
will share their country’s unique nomadic musical traditions. Isakov
and Kasabolotov will perform episodes from the Kyrgyz national epic Manas,
the longest in the world at over half a million lines. (For biographical information
on the musicians, see below.)

Residency activities will include small-scale
teaching workshops, formal concerts, and outreach events. During the residency,
the performers will teach audiences
about Kyrgyz oral literature and musical traditions.

Accompanying the musicians and providing background will be Helen Faller, an anthropologist specializing
in Central Asia.

Kasabolotov, Isakov, and Faller will give a concert on Wednesday,
March 22 at 8:00 pm in the Great Hall of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street. This event is free and open to the public.

The core mission of the residencies program is to use exchanges in the arts to increase
cross-cultural understanding between peoples in the United States
and the culturally Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. These include
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in Central Asia; Azerbaijan
in the Caucasus Region; and Muslim regions of the Russian Federation.

Other participants in the Central Asian University Residencies program besides UW-Madison are Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Wyoming.

The musicians’ visit to UW-Madison is made possible with funds from the Kemper K. Knapp Bequest, in collaboration with the Central Asian Cultural Exchange (CACE) and the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the United States, as well as the Silkroad Foundation and the Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan.

on the Musicians:

  • Ryspai Isakov – is, at only 30 years of age, Kyrgyzstan’s
    most renowned and virtuoso singer of the Manas epic. In October 2005, he
    won the Grand Prix in the Drop All Else and Sing Manas Competition of Manas
    held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. Last summer Isakov made his first
    trip out of former Soviet territory to participate in Beyond the Border,
    the annual international story-telling festival held at the St. Donats Castle
    South Wales. Born in the village of Zherenche in the Osh region of southern
    Kyrgyzstan, Isakov moved to the capital Bishkek to receive a university degree
    in Kyrgyz Philology. When he’s not performing, he works as the Managing
    Director of the Manas Muras Fond, whose mission is to preserve the Manas
  • Akylbek Kasabolotov – has been playing with Nurlanbek Nishanov’s
    traditional Kyrgyz folk ensemble Tengir Too since 2003. Just 25 years old,
    he received specialized training at the Kyrgyz National Conservatory in Bishkek
    in five traditional wind instruments – wooden flute (choor), clay flute
    (chopo chor), wooden flute with apertures (sybyzgy), the iron mouth harp,
    often called the Jew’s harp (temir oz komuz), and the wooden mouth
    harp (jigach oz komuz). Kasabolotov has traveled to Kazakhstan, Hungary,
    Russia, and Turkey
    to play concerts with Tengir-Too.

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