Review: Namgar

July 12, 2013

At the edge of the mountain ridge path
The orphaned white camel colt weeps.
When the frost is so violent that trees crack
The white camel colt seeks for grass under snow where the herd has just passed…

On a cold evening early last spring a few dozen people gathered in the village church to hear Buryat singer Namgar Lkhasaranova accompanied on traditional instruments by her husband Eugeny Zolotarev. It was a fantastic concert. Namgar has an amazing voice and the concert featured percussion and wind instruments I had never heard before.

Buryatia is a large region in Siberia near the Mongolian border. It is in the Adirondack news periodically due to local residents traveling to the region and vice versa. This is not, as I would have guessed, for commiserating about long cold winters. Apparently both mountainous regions face similar ecological challenges, and contact over these issues has facilitated some cultural exchange.

The concert sparked many questions for me, and I would have liked to have interviewed Namgar for this blog. I will probably get another chance to do so, however, because the children raved about Namgar’s school concert for days and they will no doubt lobby persistently to get her back. It surprised me that the children were so taken by Namgar, since her traditional style of music would be unfamiliar to them.

After the concert I picked up Namgar’s CD, entitled “Nomad.” Although I’ve decided I like the CD, I was initially disappointed because it was so different from the concert, being a crossover album containing elements of traditional Buryat folk music and instruments combined with a jazz/rock style. A pamphlet is included with translations of the lyrics in English. In preparing this blog post I discovered that Namgar has released a new CD called “Dawn of the Foremothers.” I will try to obtain a copy to review here.