Otyrar Sazy Kazakh Folklore Orchestra Celebrates Four Decades Performing Timeless Tunes

ASTANA – An impressive lineup of musicians performed at an Oct. 28 concert of the Otyrar Sazy Kazakh Academic Folklore-Ethnographic orchestra that celebrated the four decades of the orchestra’s work with two hours of auditory and visual delights on stage at the Nazarbayev Center in Astana.   

Dinzukhra Tlendiyeva carries on her father’s legacy as the orchestra’s chief conductor. Photo credit: Onalkhan Onerkhan, kaz.elorda.info

Founded in 1982 by a prominent Kazakh composer and conductor Nurgisa Tlendiyev, Otyrar Sazy orchestra fused Kazakh rhythms with traditional Kazakh instruments to become one of the most successful national orchestras to emerge from the time.

Tlendiyev’s talent makes him an outstanding figure in the Kazakh music scene. He devoted his life and work to preserving Kazakh national instruments, such as the dombra, kobyz, sherter, shankobyz, syrnay, saz syrnay, sybyzgy and dauylpaz. Many of them were almost forgotten, while Tlendiyev gave them new life on a professional stage along with classical instruments such as the violin. His music inspired strong emotion, captivating both young and adult audiences.

The maestro’s daughter Dinzukhra Tlendiyeva has inherited her father’s talent. She bears the responsibility of carrying on her father’s legacy with the utmost dignity as the orchestra’s chief conductor. She expanded the orchestra’s repertoire and enriched it with modern arrangements giving Otyrar Sazy a place in contemporary music. 

The projected figure of Tlendiyev would turn around to face the physical orchestra and count them into the next tune, as if bringing the artist back to life. Photo credit: astanatimes.com

Minister of Culture and Sports Dauren Abayev attended the concert and congratulated the orchestra on the anniversary.

“Nurgisa is a rare person who has preserved the spirit and national code. Otyrar Sazy is an orchestra that was able to showcase that national spirit and code,” said Abayev.

The concert got off to a strong start with Tlendiyev’s “Ake Tolgauy” (Father’s Reflections) kui (traditional musical composition). Backed by a live orchestra, the archive videos of the conductor were projected before the stage, glimmering at the front of the stage as if he himself conducted the orchestra.

The projected figure of Tlendiyev would turn around to face the physical orchestra and count them into the next tune as if the artist had been brought back to life. The effect created an unbelievable atmosphere of nostalgia and inspiration. 

All the impressive visual effects, however, would make no difference if it was not for the music. With a repertoire ranging from classic kuis composed by Tlendiyev to songs, the producers built a strong two-hour show featuring many well-known compositions.

Kazakh tenor Artur Gabdiyev brought a romantic atmosphere by performing “Zhansaulem” (My Light and Soul), while Asem Aubakirova touched hearts with “Qairan Menin Zhuregim” (What a Pity, My Heart). It was refreshing to hear solo performances from dombra virtuoso players. Honored Artist of Kazakhstan Jamilya Serkebayeva, who won the Monte Carlo International Festival’s First Violin award in 2004, surprised the viewers with her appearance among the audience and with her no less impressive performance.

At each turn, the performers brought new depth to the songs, all of them much beloved by the audience.

During the performance of “Aqqu” (Swan) kui, which served as a soundtrack for a well-known Kazakh love tragedy, the “Kyz Zhibek” film, Tlendiyev’s image capturing him in his prime was again projected. The orchestra was quick to catch up.

Emotional shifts kept occurring during their performances, which swung from nostalgic sadness to cathartic enthusiasm culminating with the final kui – “Makhambet.”

The concert ended with “Qustar Ani” (the Song of Birds) with the crowd singing along and giving the biggest cheers of the night to the orchestra crew.

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