Sazgen Sazy with Timur Bekbosunov and Maestro Zhamat Temirgaliyev with the premiere performance of The Silent Steppe Cantata, Philharmonic Hall, Almaty - March 25, 2011
Posted by Anne LeBaron; Photos by Sandra Powers
The March 25, 2011 premiere performance of The Silent Steppe Cantata, along with the introductory documentary by Sandra Powers, The Nomad’s Song, was a resounding success, according to all the reports I’ve received. Timur Bekbosunov wrote:
“The performance was superb, and attracted great praise, specifically from many critics, journalists, musicians, city officials, the U.S. Consulate, all of our partners, sponsors, friends, who just went crazy over it, calling it ‘legendary.’ People kept telling me to please tell the composer that we bow to her talent and ability for making our country proud!”
Many aspects of the Republic of Kazakhstan were inspiring to me as I composed this piece, particularly the tolerance of different faiths. Extending the representation of tolerance to an acceptance of various languages in Kazakhstan, I wanted the cantata to reflect the multiple identities represented in this vast country, and therefore set the words in a combination of Russian, Kazakh, and English. The libretto, compiled by myself and Timur Bekbosunov, is based on writings and works of Albert Fischler, A.I. Orazbaeva, Olzhas Suilemenov, M.X. Abuseitova, Abai, Galimzhan Beghozhin, Isa Daukebaev, and Zhuban Moldagaliev.
As I wasn't able to attend, I’ve yet to hear the performance but anxiously await the moment when the recording is available. Meanwhile, Eugene Moon’s personal experience of the premiere provides a more complete description. He writes:
"The cantata was in three sections. The first one, “Awakening,” introduced the appearance of the Kazakh people on earth, connected to the myth that they originated from the sun. The second section, “Silencing,” dealt with the conquest and oppression of the Kazakh people. The mood of the music was sinister; Timur started singing in a rap style. The energy and passion of the music increased, as it described the oppressive history suffered by Kazakhstan, brought on at various times by Mongols, Jungars, Russians, and Soviets---such as the collectivization and labor camps that took the lives of over a million Kazakhs. The music has this terrifying brooding quality until the mood changed, with the message that this was not the end. In “Roar of the Twenty-first Century,” the third section, the music had a nationalistic feeling, almost patriotic. Timur roared in his tenor voice with the reawakening of the sun and the people as they recovered from so many hardships, ready to face the new age and millennium, ready to expose their country and culture to the world as the "new seventh continent.” The last part of the piece has a more cinematic feel, and was played with passion and vigor. At the end, the audience cheered, jumping up to hand bouquets to Timur for the wonderful performance. I congratulate you, Anne, for creating this wonderful piece and I thank you for all the work and effort that you put into it. It was amazing, stunningly amazing beyond words. I wish it was longer, that's how much I enjoyed your piece. It was epic."