This is Argyn's blog. I comment on topics of my interests such as software, math, finance, and music. Also, I write about local events in Northern Virginia, USA and all things related to Kazakhstan

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nauryz Concert in New York

I went to Kazakh Nauryz Concert in New York yesterday. It was held in Carnegie Hall's Weil recital hall. Nauryz is a national holiday in Kazakhstan. It's a big deal over there. Here, in North America Kazakhs also celebrate it. It used to be a big gathering in New York. We attended a couple of times in the past. This time it was just a concert and a reception afterwards.

First, the UN ambassador of Kazakhstan spoke. She greeted the guests in Kazakh. It was the best part of her speech. Then, for some reason she spoke in Russian. I didnt understand why she chose so. Finally, she finished in English. There were a couple of funny word choices here. At some point she probably meant to say "дух казахской культуры", yes, it sounded like she literally translated from Russian, and it became something like "smell of Kazakh culture" :) I think that a "flavor" would be a better choice. Also, she said that in Kazakhstan there's 130 "nations" peacefully living together. This is definitely from Russian "национальности", here "ethnicity" would be the word. Of course, she couldnt escape from praising the President of Kazakhstan for all the great things he did for the world.

The concert started with a little girl playing Bach's Fur Elise. It was painful. Apparently, she just started playing piano, stuttered a few times. I wonder if it was as bad when I was playing in my first year of study. It probably was, but nobody told me then :) I like the grand piano though. Steinway & Sons, my dream. I need to make a little more money to afford it, will trade in my Yamaha baby-grand one day.

After the girl, Akhmet Ishmukhamedov played dombra. We graduated from the same musical school, but he definitely plays much better than me. He's good. It was a delight. I like dombra so much, it's the essence of Kazakh music together with kobyz. He showed off three popular pieces: Tlendiev's Akku, Kunispekov's Arman and Kurmangazy's Adai. I think we performed all of them in the orchestra too, but it was million years ago.

Akkenzhe Alimzhan sang a couple of termes. I think most people were left without a clue of what was going on :) I remember listening to termes all my childhood, mt Dad's a big fan of them. These are very long songs accompanied by dombra playing. Usually, they have some sort of advice or moral teaching. Like "don't tell secrets to enemies" etc. You totally have to understand Kazakh language very well in order to appreciate them. There's not much in them musically, so if you don't get the story, then you are bound to be bored. These songs are LONG. I liked Akkenzhe's singing very much. It's very rare to hear termes in USA. As a matter of fact, this is the first time since 2002 for me. And the girl's cute, very friendly, always smiling, unlike some other terme singers.

Alia Alhan, the event organizer, played a couple of classical pieces on piano, and one piece by a Kazakh composer. The latter was an arrangement on Kazakh music themes. I like classical music, but it always sounds out of place to me when they're played in Kazakh concerts. If I want to listen to Chopin, I go to a chamber concert. Anyways, I think that she was the only professional musician in the concert. The others seemed to have other main jobs or studying in universities.

The last part was singing "Atameken" song in Karaoke style. They played quite loud music on speakers, it was surely a midi file. The girl went on to stage and sang without an amplifier. I didn't like it. First of all, it's a 30 years old pop song, and I don't like Kazakh pop songs. Secondly, it was like in the Karaoke bar. Luckily, she did only song.

After the concert, all guests were invited to reception downstairs in Roshin Hall. There were probably 200 people. Wine and snacks were served. I got the red wine first, and it was COLD!. Ahh... awful. So, I went to grab a white wine. There was a line of glasses, some with lemon inside. My thought was "sure, they add a lemon to white wine", so I grabbed one without a lemon. It turned out to be a soda, sh.t! At this time the line was pretty long, and I went to socialize with people. There was one guy from Merryl Lynch, who I know from DC gatherings. I met a few other acquaintances, then tried to get a glass white again. This time it worked, though the wine was so-so, as expected. It didn't seem like people were having after party, so I went home. Huh, overall it was good evening, but if there was an after party, it would be much better. I don't know many Kazakhs in NYC, that's why it was bit boring to me.

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