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Alash ensemble is a trio of master throat singers from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia. The ancient art of throat singing developed among the nomadic herdsmen of this region. Alash remains grounded in this tradition while expanding its musical vocabulary with new ideas from the West.
The ensemble is named for the Alash River, which runs through the northwestern region of Tuva. The Alash River has also inspired a couple of Tuvan songs which carry its name.
All members of Alash were trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, first learning from their families, and later becoming students of master throat singers. In 1999, as students at Kyzyl Arts College, they formed a group called Changy-Xaya. They practiced in the damp college basement on Kochetovo Street, and soon became the resident traditional ensemble on campus.
The musicians are inspired by the music of their grandparents, great-grandparents, and the great musicians of Tuva and Central Asia. At the same time they are influenced by such western artists as Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. Yet the Alash musicians never sacrifice the integrity of their heritage in an effort to make their music more hip for an American audience. Rather they look for contemporary ideas that mesh well with the sound and feel of traditional Tuvan music.