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Sunbeams from the north

By Chen Nan | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-21 08:18

(From left) Sayan Bapa, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg and Radik Tyulyush in a concert in Beijing in 2018. CHINA DAILY

Though rooted deeply in the traditional music and culture of Tuva, the quartet is known for innovation, transforming ancient songs into complex acoustic compositions. While touring around the world, the band has worked with musicians across genres, such as collaborations with American string quartet Kronos Quartet in 1997, and creating a dance remix of their track Far Away From Home from the group's album Spirits From Tuva, in 2003.

"It's important for us to find new energy for our music, so we have been collaborating with different musicians from jazz to other contemporary music genres. The key to collaboration is to understand each other," Bapa says. "We're trying to preserve our musical heritage but at the same time we're trying to look forward."

"Their sounds are both traditional and international. I've been listening to their songs for many years, and I am still amazed and inspired," said Chinese film director Uragshaa in an early interview. Uragshaa invited Huun Huur Tu to perform in Beijing in 2018 as part of the nonprofit project, Nomad Relays, which he co-launched to celebrate nomadic culture.

According to Liu Zhao, Huun Huur Tu's China tour promoter, and founder-owner of Beijing-headquartered company, Stallion Era Cultural Communication, many Chinese bands have been influenced by Huun Huur Tu's music, especially those dedicated to combining old songs with contemporary musical elements.

"Wherever they (Huun Huur Tu) perform, either outdoors or indoors, they have the magic to transport their audience to the natural wilderness," says Liu. "Some of their songs evoke a state of tranquility and calmness. When they perform those songs, the concert halls can sometimes become so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. You can also expect to enjoy rousing tunes, which get your blood pumping."


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