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17 février 2008

Tuva Begins the Year of Khoomei

In Tuva a gala-concert in the Muzdramteatr (Music-Drama Theater) officially opened February 13 the Year of Khoomei. Khoomei is a unique vocal phenomenon, whereby in the performer's throat sounds of different pitches are created simultaneously. In effect, the person becomes like an orchestra. Today khoomei became the worldwide calling card of Tuva. In the summer of 2007 the art of Tuvan throat singing enraptured Vladimir Putin and his guest Albert II, Prince of Monaco.

Tuvans were first acknowledged by outsiders back in the 1980s. In 1992, the first international symposium about throat singing in Kyzyl attracted not only scientists, but also performers from around the world--from France, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, and Finland.

Today, Tuvan masters of khoomei (the name of two-voiced singing) have gained the ability to hang out at the houses of western mega-stars, the attention of Hollywood, and participation in the most distinguished talk shows in America. Legendary Frank Zappa persistently invited the musicians of group "Huun-Huur-Tu" to his home, gladly fitted himself with a Tuvan folk outfit and eagerly listened to throat singing. And Stevie Wonder, according to eyewitnesses, simply burst into tears when he heard a joint appearance by Tuvan throat singers and a Bulgarian women's chorus. Peter Gabriel was offended by the Tuvans of the group "Shu-de", who "worked too long and forgot about everything" in his studio and ignored the maestro's invitation to come to his daughter's birthday. With the help of khoomei, Kongar-ool Ondar associated with highest-paid showmen of America, David Letterman and Chevy Chase, on their high-rated talk shows.

Each of these Tuvan groups has its army of worshippers, who listen to all their discs, adjust their schedules according to the tour schedules of their idols and readily follow them around the world.
Every year, hundreds of worshippers of Tuvan throat singing travel to Tuva, wanting to study khoomei in its native land--in the center of Asia. Associations of throat singers appear and work in Japan and Finland. In these countries, champions in the performance of throat singing are determined at "domestic" tournaments. These national champions, in turn, are granted the honor of leaving for Tuva to compete with Tuvan throat singers.

On "khoomei" more than one dissertation has been defended. (See Mark van Tongeren of the Netherlands and Tran Quang Hai of France.) Musicologist Zoya Kyrgys dedicated 25 years of study to Tuvan throat singing. The result of this study became her doctoral thesis. In the opinion of the scientist, specifically in the technique of sound production lies a vital distinction of Tuvan khoomei from other types of throat singing. Tuvan performers do not limit themselves to using the oral cavity and the larynx, as often occurs from in two-voiced singing of other people, but rather they sing with support of the chest, with the chest acting as a sound resonator, asserts the author. This is one type of corporomusic, in which the body actually works as a musical instrument. To denote Tuvan throat singing, the Tuvan musicologist uses the new working term "khorekteer" ("to chest-sing" in Tuvan).

Zoya Kyrgys became one of the head promoters in advancement of khoomei. At the end of the 1980s, she together with notable throat singer Gennady Tumat initiated the creation of the first ensemble of throat singers--"Tuva". The core of the group's repertoire was archival writings (songs, tales, prayers), collected in the course of field expeditions by the scientists of TNIIYALI. Then "Tuva", in time, became a factory of "throat" personnel. Out of "Tuva" came Kaygal-ool Khovalyg, Kongar-ool Ondar, Stanislav Tanmaa, Boris Kherlii, Otkun Dostay, Ivan Saryglar, Evgeniy Oyun and many others. Many of them decided to make their own groups which further on became quite popular. "Tuva"'s repertoir made up of Zoya Kyrgys archive findings served as a basis for them. Thus unknown old songs became sung everywhere.

The resolution about the declaration of 2008 as Year of Khoomei was accepted at the end of 2007 by the Government of the Republic. "Khoomei is one of the main properties of our culture," states Vice-Premier Anatoli Damba-Khuurak, who heads the organizational committee for conducting the

Year of Khoomei in Tuva. "The Year of Khoomei is declared not only with the goal of advertising this unique cultural phenomenon, but also for dealing with practical questions. In particular, earlier retirement for performers of throat singing, and creating a digital audio-visual archive of throat singing. We also intend to attain inclusion of khoomei in the list of objects of nonmaterial cultural heritage of UNESCO."

Declarations of the Year of Khoomei will pass not only in Tuva, but also in cities in Russia and abroad. In the Republic of Tuva, where practically one out of three men performs khoomei, a gathering of throat singers will take place in the summer of 2008. There is even an idea to register a record in the Guinness Book for the greatest number of people simultaneously performing khoomei.

Rodney King's Children

Human rights activist Sam Gregory on fighting oppression with video cameras

Over the last few years, a brave group of Arab activists has circulated footage of Egyptian cops striking, lashing, and even raping detainees. The torture videos, which had been filmed by the policemen themselves, prompted protests both inside and outside the country. They also prompted censorship: YouTube temporarily shut down the dissident blogger Wael Abbas' digital video channel after the company received complaints about the violent clips.

The channel can now be viewed on YouTube again. Much of its footage can also be seen on a website called The Hub, which is what YouTube would look like if it had been designed by Mohandas Gandhi. The site first appeared in pilot form in 2006, and a beta version launched in December 2007; over 500 pieces of media—videos, audio clips, photo slideshows—have been uploaded to it since its debut. The offerings range from raw footage of a massacre in Guinea to a detailed documentary about forced labor in rural Brazil. Most are accompanied by further information on the issues examined and on ways to take action against the abuses.

The site was created by Witness, a Brooklyn-based group founded by the pop star Peter Gabriel in 1992. Conceived in the wake of the Rodney King beating, the group first focused on getting cameras into the hands of human rights groups around the world and then on training them in the most effective ways to use those tools—creating, in Gabriel's phrase, a network of "Little Brothers and Little Sisters" to keep an eye on Big Brother's agents. Now Witness wants to move that community of camera-wielding activists online.

Gabriel serves as the group's celebrity face and as chairman of the board, but he stays out of the organization's day-to-day operations. Those decisions are made by people like program manager Sam Gregory. A human rights activist since he first joined Amnesty International in his teens, the U.K.-born Gregory became a student filmmaker at college, where he "was always trying to find a way to combine" his two interests. In addition to his managerial work, Gregory, 33, has co-produced videos about human rights issues in Burma, the Philippines, Argentina, Indonesia, and the United States.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker met Gregory at the DIY Video Summit at the University of Southern California, where Gregory gave a presentation about The Hub; Walker interviewed him via phone in mid-February.

reason: How did Witness get started?

Sam Gregory: Peter Gabriel had been traveling the world with the Amnesty human rights tour in the late '80s. He repeatedly encountered activists who were saying, "We've experienced this abuse, we've heard these stories of abuses, and we have no ways of responding." He had been carrying a Hi-8 camera with him, and it struck him that if those activists had access to cameras they would be able to document what was happening around them and share it in a way that would be totally different from the typical text-based approach.

(....) read more here...

Jesse Walker | February 15, 2008

Polar Arts : Richard Evans Management

About Polar Arts

Polar Arts was founded in 2000 by Juliette Slater & Jane Kelly. The company offers a bespoke service for management, tours and events in the live industry.

Richard began working at Realworld Studios, not long after graduating from Guildhall School of Music. He was nurtured under the creative eye of Peter Gabriel, and many talented producers such as Daniel Lanois, Travor Horn, Stephen Hague, Bob Ezrin, John Leckie and Brian Eno. He has since gone on to work on many albums, films & multimedia projects. Recent work included co-producing and co-writing the Golden Globe nominated score for ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’. He has also performed around the world as multi-instrumentalist in Peter Gabriel’s touring band.

Richard has worked on records, commercials, documentaries, feature films and 2006 has found Richard working on a typically varied set of projects. He is always looking for new creative challenges. Please contact us for further details or to set up a meeting.

WALL-E Gets Some Tunes From Peter Gabriel

I’m terribly excited over WALL-E. Pixar has shown that they can do no wrong so far, and this year’s release doesn’t look to change that at all. Every glimpse we get of the little robot, from his newfound place in the Pixar logo to the Super Bowl commercial featuring Buzz Lightyear and Woody talking about WALL-E just excites me more and more.

Today’s cause for excitement: Andrew Stanton has apparently brought Peter Gabriel on board to help with the music for WALL-E. The scope of Gabriel’s involvement ins’t quite clear, but in his latest video blog, Gabriel discusses a little about the picture, revealing a few things we didn’t know before and drawing some comparisons between WALL-E and the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We know from the trailers that the movie centers around a small robot who was left behind on Earth to clean up garbage after mankind moved to the stars. The environmentally conscious musician says that Pixar consulted with NASA and, based on description of bone deterioration in space, humans are being made to look like “flat blobs in armchairs.” That sounds really cool to me.

Apparently Gabriel has been involved with the picture for some time (he says Stanton approached him in 2005) and he thinks the movie is going to continue the Pixar legacy of films that are appropriate for kids but also contain content for adults as well. I’m guessing that’s the environmental message Gabriel is talking about, but only those involved know for sure right now.

As for how much Gabriel is creating for the movie, the musician describes his contribution as creating one or two new things as well as putting some glue on things he’s done before. I’m not sure if that means he’s just creating a few songs for the movie or if he’ll be scoring it as well, like he has previously with films like The Last Temptation of Christ. Either way, I’m excited to hear some Gabriel tunes accompanying WALL-E.

I’ve hit the high points here, but if you want to hear Gabriel talking about his involvement himself, click over to his video blog entry. Be warned however: the musician talks about his broken leg (the result of a skiing accident) as well as engineering designs of a friend of his before he even begins to mention the Pixar project in what winds up being a thirteen minute long video.


By Rafe Telsch: 2008-02-13