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, April 06, 2008

Nauryz 2008 in Washington, DC

Another Kazakh Nauryz celebration in USA on 5th april, this time in Washington, DC.

I got to tell you: Kazakh's love holidays and all kinds of festivities. Nauryz is becoming viral. There were several events just in Washington this year.

This one was held at Carnegie Institution, 1530 P ST Nw, near Kazakh embassy in DC. It started at 4pm. As true Kazakhs, we showed up at 5pm. It's impolite to come on time in Kazakhstan. You are supposed to be late by ~1 hour, otherwise it's rude. In USA Kazakhs try to deal with this in different way. The problem's that Americans show up on time, usually, unless they're aware of Kazakh hospitality traditions.

Organizers made a smart move: there was an art exhibition/sale of Kazakh artist, whose name I forgot. So, when came to the venue, the concert was just about to start. First, there was a speech by rep of newly formed Kazakh-American Association. I know all the people in it, but am not sure if they're a legal entity yet. Interestingly Kaa was the name of the snake in Kipling's Mowgli stories. She spoke in Kazakh, it was a good speech. Then speaks a lady from central Asian cultural exchange organization. She's Kazakh, and speaks in English. There were a couple of funny gaffes, but I forgot them. She invites Kazakh ambassador to address the crowd. He speaks in Kazakh, pretty well done speech writing; then he goes on to greet us all in English. That's a sharp difference with a previous ambassador, who I never heard saying a word in English. He goes on for good 5-6 minutes, explaining Nauryz to foreigners, and mentioning some kind of Nauryz gathering at first lady Bush's residence. That was surprising. He says that Mrs Bush compared Nauryz to Thanksgiving and Easter. I get the Easter part, but Thanksgiving sounds like a stretch to me.

Next, comes Helen, a woman who organized the concert tour of Roksonaki band in USA. She's PhD in some kind of cultural music studied field. I know her from 2002 Silk Road Festival in Washington, DC national Mall. Her speech was short and informative, my style! :)

Finally, Roksonaki bandcomes to perform. I know the founder and his family. They're very nice people. They sing several songs. I noticed they changed the style very much. Ruslan Kara, the founder, told me that they went acoustic for this album. Roksonaki use throat-singing technique a lot. However, it's not a common style in Kazakhstan. In fact, I never heard this until very recently. I like a couple of song that night, but forgot their titles.

I must say the sound quality was so-so. I think that the venue wasn't suited for a musical performance. Also, the airline lost Zhetigen, one of the musical instruments.

I was somewhat annoyed by the sound of Kobyz. It's Kazakh string instrument with beautiful rich low tone. I love it and want to learn to play it some day. However, it didnt sound well to me this time. I'm not sure what's the reason. I was told that it's the sound quality. For example, Akku piece was particularly disappointing. It sounded messy, I couldnt hear the melody very well. I like this kuy very much, and still remember Sayan Akmolda's playing at our place.

People in the audience were coming and going. It was a lot of traffic, which is typical for Kazakh events. A few minutes before the end of a concert, I decided to check out what's going on outside the hall. The food was on the tables! Great! I went on to pick some, when the catering people told us to wait until the concert's over. Yeah, sure, when there'll be huge line around tables. Wine and alcoholic beverages were not free in the main hall. However, there was a separate room, which I called beau monde room. They had better food, silver ware and free liqueur there. I guess it was meant to by for VIPs. Anyhow, I was in a suite and looked Ok to get in and grab some delicious food item and conjak. I'm not sure who were the real VIPs there. I saw the ambassador, and a bunch of his people. There was also some kind of a big wig from Kazakh senate, Sultanov(?). I'be no idea who is he, but apparently he's a high flying bird over there.

After the concert, there was half hour break to grab food, then they started traditional amateur performances and games. I missed all this. I was socializing. There were a lot of people who I know. I tend to hang out with those who I know. It's not wise. These events should be used to make new friends. I know it, but every time I go out it's all the same routine to me: I find those who I know and mostly talk to them. At the end there was a dance, then younger crowd went to Ibiza club for after-party. We went there too, but it was a mistake. The place was over crowded, and loud. Overall, except the very last leg, it was a good day.

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