Monday, November 10, 2008

First, there were Horses

One of the memorable adventures on my first full day in Kazakhstan was a surprise ride on this gentle animal, which at first glance I thought was a life-sized statue, as he stood in utter stillness. To honor him, I begin this tale of an endeavor that has taken me to an exotic land, one of the former Soviet bloc countries that has a bright future.

For two weeks this fall, I lived in the former capital, Almaty, while researching the country's history and environment, meeting musicians, and investigating indigenous instruments. The cantata, planned for performances in late 2009 and 2010, will be written for Otyrar Sazy, the National Folk Orchestra; Koktem, the celebrated Kazakh children's choir; and the soloist Timur Bekbosunov. My collaborator, the writer Beysenbai Suleimenov, will be providing a text in three parts, detailing the rich and complex past of Kazakhstan; the devastating Soviet policy of collectivization, resulting in widespread famine and the virtual disappearance of the nomadic way of life; and the newly independent country that has forged a solid standing in the world --- it will, in fact, assume the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010.

In the coming days I'll be sharing images, descriptions, recordings, and videos from this initial visit to Kazakhstan, so stay tuned!