Musical group Namgar fuses tradition Mongolian, Buryatia and Chinese music and stories with jazz and rock to create worlds of new sounds for audiences. (Photo submitted)

Songs and stories from Eastern Steppe coming to Boundary Museum

Namgar Lhasaranova fuses music from her home to share with global audiences

Submitted by Cavan Gates – Alive Entertainment Group

Music spanning from the Mongolian steppe, through China and up to Siberia will soon be tumbling down the valley from the Boundary Museum, when Buryat-Mongolian musicial group Namgar performs at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 6.

For 10 years, Namgar Lhasaranova has performed worldwide at major international festivals, winning audience versatility and depth of Buryat folk songs. The Buryat vocalist/instrumentalist fronts the group, Namgar, which fuses traditional Buryat and Mongolian music with elements of pop, jazz, folk, ambient soundscapes and art-rock that doesn’t sound quite like anything else. The fusion of haunting female vocals with traditional and modern instruments brings together images of vast landscapes and modern drive. Lhasaranova’s voice is as immense as her Siberian homeland. Lhasaranova’s impressive vocal range can go from playful and childlike to gigantic and soaring within the space of a few minutes.

The band uses traditional Mongolian instruments, including the yatag (a 13-stringed zither), the chanza (a three-stringed lute) along with electric bass and drums to craft its unique sound, which it has been taken to festival stages around the world, from Norway to Malaysia and the United States . The melodies Namgar creates were passed down to Lhasaranova from her grandparents and father who sang to her as a child. The inventive arrangements are new, but the stories told in the songs are as old as the indigenous Buryats themselves, with tales and myths of ancient Mongol fighters, champions, horses and famous battles.

Lhasaranova grew up in a Buryat family in a tiny village of Kunkur near the border intersection of Russia, Mongolia, and China. She is a daughter of the steppe, born to a cattle herder whose line included the Darkhasha craftsmen. Her name, from Tibetan, means “white clouds” and she masters the mysteries of the great wide open, voices of spirits of mountains and forests. Love of the melodies sung by her granny and her father and the wish to maintain a tradition that is becoming extinct brought her to festival stages around the world. Namgar sings long songs and “yokhor” dance tunes, “uliger” legends of mighty champions, precise arrows and swift horses, just as they were sung ages ago.

Audience members can imagine embracing the world of sounds as big as from the Lake Baikal in eastern Russia to the Great Wall in China, from the songs of shamanist gatherings of Siberia to celebration songs you might hear at a midsummer fest in Buryatia to exquisite melodies from Inner Mongolia. Looking like characters from the ancient legends of Asia onstage, Namgar delivers the music that is both exotic and easily accessible.

Advance tickets are available at The Source in downtown Grand Forks.

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