The Silent Steppe Cantata, a large-scale sonic and theatrical portrait of the Republic of Kazakhstan, with music by Anne LeBaron, will draw upon the historical writings of several Kazakh authors spanning nine centuries, in consultation with the prominent Kazakh poet and writer Beysenbay Suleimenov. Featuring the outstanding young Kazakh tenor and actor, Timur Bekbosunov, performing forces will include the internationally acclaimed children's choir, “Koktem,” and an orchestra of indigenous Kazakh instruments, “Orchestra Sazgen Sazi.”The Silent Steppe Cantata will be previewed in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2010, followed by the world premiere at the Palace of Peace in Astana. Photos, audio clips from the first workshop, and footage from the documentary film being shot by Sandra Powers can be accessed here.
In our recently completed trip to Kazakhstan, the early summer of 2009, we met with the orchestra and journeyed through the steppes and to Turkestan. During an initial three-day period of workshops, I spent time with the musicians, learning how to write for their instruments. All of the players, virtuosic folk musicians, had no problem reading standard notation. On the third day, I conducted an intensive workshop / rehearsal with all members of the orchestra present, and with their long-time conductor, Zhamat Temirgaliyev. We were privileged to witness, and to record on audio and video, some events rarely seen and heard in the West. The Singing Dunes, in Altyn Emel National Park, are iconic dunes that project a surreal force, whether they’re singing or not. Our team from the U.S. was granted special permission to film in the Yassui mosque and mausoleum in Turkestan, and were invited by our Kazakh guide to witness and participate in a Sufi worship ceremony that evening---one of the most memorable occasions of my life, and one that will surely have an impact in the creation of the cantata. The indigenous music and literature of Kazakhstan is still essentially unknown to the West. We hope that this project will convey the cultural riches of Kazakhstan to a larger public over time. We are grateful for the support of CEC ArtsLink; the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; CalArts; and the Art of Opera Foundation.
The Team | Musicians | Site | Petroglyph | Peace Pipe
(Additional photos can be seen in the gallery on the media page)
The Silent Steppe Cantata
Julie’s Garden of
The Well-Read Clavier