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Folk Ensembles from Aginsk-Buryat Region of Siberia

Sakhor Ensemble
Ensemble "Sakhor" (Flint) of Tsagaan-Chelutay village with members of Yara


"The day will come, I'm convinced, when collections such as Sing Till the Sun Sets will take their places as prized musical contributions to the human undertaking. The hottest of today's "world music" stars will fade, and we will turn for renewed inspiration to the honest, authentic sounds that have enriched lives since time immemorial. Such inspiration served as the motive for Sing Till the Sun Sets, which arose when members of New York's La MaMa Experimental Theatre sought to record folk songs from the eastern Siberian homeland of the Buryats. Though originally nomads, today's homeland of the Aginsk-Buryats lies to the east of Lake Baikal, a remote region of mountains and steppes. With thirty-two tracks, its important to recognize that many of these songs are brief and reflect the ambiguity of field recordings and you often have to take what you get. What you get is extraordinary. The song collectors were seeking traditional songs and legends to be used for Flight of the White Bird, a performance that debuted in the region from which these songs were gleaned in 1998 and then in New York (1999). Hence, from the region they sought out keepers of the oral tradition, meeting storytellers, musicians, village folk-ensembles and shamans. In these songs of horses, the land, love, swans, temples and even comic dialog, Sing Till the Sun Sets offers an impressive glimpse across time through the recording magic of DAT, CDs and the world of digital technology."
-- Richard Dorsett, RootsWorld On-Line Magazine

"In 1997, five members of the New York experimental theatre company La MaMa traveled to Ulan Ude. There they worked with Buryat actors to create a new theatre piece, and with their new colleagues they traveled to an isolated region 500 miles away to collect the oral traditions of the region. This CD is the result of that trip. The recordings are of three folk ensembles based in the regional center of Aginskoye and the villages of Tokchin and Tsagan-Chelutay. The recording quality is variable, reflecting being 'in the field." The CD offers much that is unique. The knowledgeable listener will be able to discern similarities to the music of other parts of Siberia, to Russia further west, and to China and Mongolia to the south. At the same time, the CD demonstrates that Buryatia preserves a distinct culture, a culture that, sadly, is hardly known in the West. In sum, then, the recordings are wonderful"
-- Keith Howard, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London
Review for Musical Traditions, August 21, 2001

"This CD contains several recording of Siberian folk ensembles. Beautiful, pure music, that is so rarely heard in the Western World."
-- Eelco Schilder, Folk World 12/2001

CD includes:
Ensemble "Sakhor" (Flint) of Tsagaan-Chelutay village
1.Erbed Sokhor (Star-marked Horse) (2:15) sung by Bazarzhapov Vladimir.
2. Moryne Solo (Praise to the Winning Horse) (0:48) sung by Bazarzhapov Vladimir.
3. Yoxor (1:32) sung by Sakhor folk ensemble. A series of traditional Buryat round dance songs
performed during rituals and holidays as sung in Tsagaan Cheutay village.
4. Suugel Dasanai Magtal (Song about a Buddhist Temple) (4:05) sung by Purbuyeva Dashima.
5. Khun Shubuun - Neryelge (Swans - Thunder Dance) (1:47) sung by Sakhor Folk Ensemble.
The swan is the totemic animal of the Khori Buryat clans. Thunder Dances are sung by the assistants during shaman rituals.

Are those swans flying high in the sky? I sing ho-hey
Do they gaze from above on our land? I sing ho-hey
Is that new way coming to our land? I sing ho-hey
Will this way bring good times to us all? I sing ho-hey *

6. Tukheren Shara Naran (The Yellow Round Sun) (1:36) sung by Bazarzhapov Balzhinima.
The yellow round sun will be with us forever, just as my father's clan will be with us forever.
7.Khuryakhen Duun (Song of the Brother-in-law) (1:55) sung by Shadabay Sanzhidma.
Song about a man who accidentally killed his brother-in-law during a hunt.
8. Uusyn Duun (Daughter-In-Law's Song) (2:36) sung by Purbuyeva Dashima. A wedding ritual song.
9. Zakhia Duun (Parental Advice) (1:49) sung by Gotopova Tsyregma.
10. Altargana (Sage) (0:34) sung by Bazarzhapova Darima.

11. Sherem Bulad Takha (Horseshoes) (1:02) sung by Munkueva Arakshaa.
There are horses that run so quickly that their shoes ring out. There are people who make your heart ring out.
12. Medebylbe (I Understood) (1:52) sung by Bazarzhapov Vladimir.
I understood my horse only when I crossed the mountain range. I understood my father's advice when I became an adult.
13. Erbeekhei Galuuta (Butterflies) (1:15) sung by Shadabay Sanzhydma.
Although my love is far away, I will not marry you.
14. Kharasgai (Sparrow) (1:16) sung by Munkueva Arakshaa.
The sparrow flies high above the mountains. My beloved is far away in a distant land.
15. Onon Goloi Bulzhuukhe (A Lark Sits in the Onon River's Reeds) (1:47) sung by Purbuyeva Dashima.

A lark sits in the Onon's reeds
But may not always do so
We are together now
But it may not always be so **

Tumen Zhargalan Ensemble
Ensemble Tumen Zhargalan (10,000 Years of Happiness) of the Aginskoye Regional Center
16. Yoxor (5:07) sung by the Tumen Zhargalan Folk Ensemble. A series of traditional Buryat round dance songs performed during rituals and holidays as sung in Aginskoye. 17. Nabtarkhan Guboge Oroygor - Neryelge (Till the Sun Sets - Thunder Dance) (1:57) sung by the Tumen Zhargalan Folk Ensemble.

Till the sun sets beyond low hills
We will thunder, we will dance!
We'll bring to life the ancient ways
Of our forefathers as we dance! **

18. Khaiban Kharaara (Your Dark Horse Is Strong) (1:41) sung by Baldanova Tsyregma.
Your dark horse is strong, so you can travel far.
19. Asatay Khage Uzury (Tips of the Steppe Grasses) (2:09) sung by Tzyndymeyeva Urzhin.

Let our fast horses run free
Over the very tips of the steppe grasses
Let's give our elders
Our best cooked dishes **

20. Budalan Aguulyn Oroigor (A Sparrow Flies Over the Mountain Tops) (1:06) sung by Baldanovva Tsyregma.
Song of the Shinikhen Buryats who live in China. I watch a sparrow fly over the mountain tops, but I can't fly to my homeland.
21. Uusyn Duun (Parental Advice) (2:40) sung by Dorzhieva Tsybegmyt.
Always give your horse water from a pure spring. Your horse will neigh remembering his herd, you will remember your family. Always respect the only son of a family. Never harm the only tree in the steppe. 22. Utakhan Onone Eryede (On the Banks of the Onon River) (1:25) sung by Shulunova Erdeny, accompanied by violin.

How glorious to let your horse run free
Along the wide banks of the Onon River
How glorious to meet my beloved
For only a moment and then part **

Onon Ensemble
Ensemble "Onon" from Tokchin village

23. Kheregeteikhen kherere (Horse with a Blaze) (0:59) lead vocalist: Tsyrendashieva Dolgorzhab.
Advice to a daughter-in-law.
24. Zhoroo Ugin Muryseen (Trotting Words) (1:45) comedic dialog performed by Dashieva Zhab and Chimittsyrenova Dulmazhab.
25. Onon Khatyn (Queen Mother Onon) (1:25) written by Dugarnymaev Abraam and sung by the Onon Folk Ensemble.
26. Yoxor (4:09) sung by the Onon Folk Ensemble. A series of traditional Buryat round dance songs performed during rituals and holidays as sung in the village of Tokchin.
27. Rinchin Darzhin Taishaagai Duun. (Last Song of the Taisha Rinchin Darzhin) (2:26) sung by Tsyrendashieva Dolgorzhab.
Rinchin Darzhin was a Khori-Buryat Taisha (prince) who was executed in 1830. Verses from this song are believed to be part of his last song. It is traditionally broken off mid-verse leaving the audience with a sense of loss. An urga is a traditional Mongolian catchpole or lasso with a long wooden handle used to catch horses.

Have you ever seen a wild eagle
Swoop down across the horizon?
Have you ever seen Rinchin Darzhin
Gallop on his horses across the grasslands?

"I once had a fine young son
Who will grow up searching for me.
I once was married to a fine lady
Who will grow old weeping for me.

I once had an urga cut from a birch tree
That will turn to dust on the gate I'm closing…" **

28. Elhen Dobo (Sandy Mountain) (2:26) sung by Tsyrendashieva Dolgorzhab.
The Angara River is the only river which flows out of Lake Baikal. At one point it floods a large plain area. This placid wetland is known as the Angara Sea.

A young bird sheltered and reared, held in grace
By Angara Sea feels free
I was sheltered and reared, held in grace
By my father's love and I feel free **

29. Shubuud Tukhai Duun (A Song About Birds) (1:17) sung by Gonchiktsengeyeva Dulma.

A young eagle graces the grasslands
Silver chains adorn and grace you **

30. Geserei Duun (Song About the Geser) (2:25) sung by Aiusheyeva Tsyren-Dulma.
Hymn in praise of Geser, the mythic warrior hero of the longest epic poem in the world.
31. Shelde Zange (Shelde, the Squire) (1:45) sung by Dugarnimaev Abraam.
When my horse runs fast, my armor rings and I conquer my enemies.

*(translated by Sayan Zhambalov, Virlana Tkacz, Wanda Phipps and Tom Lee)
**(translated by Sayan Zhambalov, Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps)

BURYATS live in the mountains and steppes of eastern Siberia around Lake Baikal. Related by language and history to Mongolians, they were originally pastoral nomads and hunters who practiced both Buddhism and Shamanism. They were colonized by Russians in the 17th century and currently account for 30% of the population of Buryatia, a republic within the Russian Federation. There are also two autonomous Buryat regions: west of Lake Baikal is the Ust-Orda Region, while the Aginsk Buryat Region lies far to the east, where the borders of China, Mongolia and Siberia come together. Because of its remote location the Aginsk Buryat Region has preserved many of the unique features of Buryat culture to this day.

In July 1997 five members of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, traveled to Buryatia: Virlana Tkacz (director), Genji Ito (composer), Watoku Ueno (designer), Wanda Phipps (writer) and Tom Lee (actor). Together with three actors from the Buryat National Theatre: Erzhena Zhambalov, Sayan Zhambalov and Erdeny Zhaltsanov, they hoped to create a new music theatre piece based on traditional songs and legends. They traveled to the Aginsk-Buryat Region, a trip of 500 miles. Sayan Zhambalov, who was born and raised in the area, arranged for the group to meet and record the keepers of the oral tradition of the region: storytellers, musicians, village folk-ensembles and shamans. Included here are the songs of three folk ensembles: "Sakhor" (Flint) from the village of Tsagaan-Chelutay, "Tumen Zhargalan" (10,000 Years of Happiness) from the regional center of Aginskoye, and "Onon" from Tokchin village.

The traditional songs the group recorded became an integral part of their new theatre piece, Flight of the White Bird. The piece performed at the Buryat National Theatre in Ulan Ude in the summer of 1998, then on tour in all the villages of the Buryat Aginsk Region where the material was first recorded and premiered at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York in the spring of 1999. Yara would like to thank the people of Tsagaan Chelutay, Aginskoye and Tokchin for sharing their stories and songs.

YARA ARTS GROUP brings together drama, poetry, song, and movement to create original theatre pieces. Yara began its collaboration with Buryat artists in 1996 by presenting a joint work, Virtual Souls, in New York, Ulan Ude and Kiev. In 1997 Yara artists traveled to Siberia to collect folk material for a new piece, Flight of the White Bird, which was presented in Ulan Ude and at La MaMa in New York.

recorded on location and mixed by Genji Ito, mastered by Slavko Halatyn of BeSharp,
edited by Sayan Zhambalov, notes by Sayan Zhambalov and Virlana Tkacz
photos by Watoku Ueno and Virlana Tkacz

To purchase CD: Make check out to: Yara Arts Group for $15 + $5 for postage
Send to: Yara Arts Group, 306 E 11th St. #3B, New York, NY 10003 USA

for more information on CD or Buryat artists write to us at

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