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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Tuvan music debuts Northern Nights series

The Alash Ensemble will bring the music of the republic of Tuva to Marquette at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 in the Forest Robert Theatre.This is the first concert of seven in the Northern Nights series, previously titled the International Performing Arts Series. The shows, according their webpage, works towards bringing internationally recognized artists to NMU. They also work to bring more culturally diverse acts to campus.Sean Quirk, the group’s manager, said the type of music that the Alash Ensemble will perform reflects the traditional history of Tuva.

“Tuvan culture is integral to the music of Tuva,” Quirk said. “Not does the music convey beautiful images of the land of Tuva through the beautiful and varied sounds of throat-singing and instruments such as the igil, but the singers are singing songs about their homeland, good horses, beautiful women, history, all things that are essential to Tuvan culture.”Alash

The concert will also be part of NMU’s eighth annual conference of the Uniting Neighbors In The Experience of Diversity. According to the conference’s schedule, Alash’s concert will act as a preconference or homecoming event.

According to Paul Truckey, Northern Nights’ coordinator, the series usually attempts to do something in part with UNITED.

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“This year it just worked that the group was coming the night before UNITED was planning to open,” Truckey said. “So we asked if they could be the opening event for the conference.”

Alash comes from Tuva, a republic of Russia located between Russia and Mongolia. They have released two studio albums of their music, Alash (2007) and Buura (2011) and play traditional music of the area, as well as incorporate some contemporary aspects and throat sing, or in Tuvan, xöömei.

According to Truckey, this will be the first show of their U.S. tour and it will also be the first time the series has featured throat singing in many years.

“We’ve had throat singers in the past but it was quite a while ago,” Truckey said. “It was before I ran the series. It might have been in the 1990s.”

The group formed in 1999, according to their website, at the Kyzyl Arts College under the name Changy-Xaya which translates to echoing cliff,” Quirk said.

“This ensemble ended up becoming the official ensemble of the college, and as the Alash members got closer to graduation they bequeathed the reins of the Echoing Cliff to their younger classmates and took on the name of ‘Alash’,” Quirk said.

The group’s present lineup consists of Ayan Shirizhik, Ayan-ool Sam and Bady-Dorzhu Ondar. They have won awards both collectively and individually for their throat singing and music. According to Quirk, Sam and Ondar met while students of Kongar-ool Ondar, an internationally recognized throat singer and met Shirizhik when they started the music college.

Throat singing allows an artist to produce multiple pitches in their voice at once.

“I figured it would be some kind of godawful caterwaul suitable only for its novelty value,” Quirk said. “My friend put on the album, and instead of moaning there was the most beautiful stringed instrument, playing a plaintive and powerful melody akin to the human voice and yet not.

As the singer progressed through several more of the soul-shaking styles, I understood immediately that this was no musical animal like I had ever beheld.”

For those still unsure about the genre, Alash’s website offers a comprehensive page explaining the basics of the methods along with audio examples and descriptions of the different styles as well. The site also gives bios on the instruments of Tuva that many concertgoers in the Marquette area will be unfamiliar with.

When asked what a patron can expect at a show, Quirk said the performance will be extremely unique compared to many things that have hit the stage before at NMU.

“If they’ve never heard the music of Tuva live before, it will be an unforgettable experience to somatically feel the powerful and completely unique sounds of this music,” Quirk said. “If they have been to Tuvan music concerts before, they can expect high-grade Tuvan music played by three of the finest practitioners of their generation.”

Though volunteer positions are filled for this event, Truckey said, students can still offer to help at future concerts for things such as ushering and promotion.

Show tickets are available at the Superior Dome, EZ Ticket Outlets, by calling (906)227-1032 or online at Prices as well as additional information on this concert and others in the series are available at

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