Kurmangazy Orchestra Enters 90th Anniversary Season with Impressive Program

ASTANA The Kurmangazy National Folk Instruments Orchestra launched the 90th celebratory season on Jan. 20 with a concert to mark the 200th anniversary of Kurmangazy Sagyrbaiuly, the most renowned Kazakh folk composer and dombra player, reported the Regional Communications Service of Almaty.

Orchestra’s concert on Jan. 20. Photo credit: kurmangazy.com

“This year will mark the 200th anniversary of our ancestor Kurmangazy. Beginning on Jan. 20, our orchestra was the first in the country to start concerts to mark the composer’s anniversary. This year, all events will be dedicated to the memory of Kurmangazy,” said Medet Kuanyshev, director of the orchestra.

The orchestra was founded by a composer, the first principal conductor and the People’s Artist of Kazakhstan Akhmet Zhubanov, with the simple intention of “conveying the soul of the Kazakh man through folk instruments.”

Akhmet Zhubanov was the first conductor of the Kurmangazy Orchestra. Photo credit: kurmangazy.com.

Initially a dombra orchestra, they debuted with their first concert in 1934. Since then, the ensemble has toured around 80 countries, including France, Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, China, and Türkiye.

A list of key composers associated with the Kurmangazy Orchestra includes both classics of Kazakh and world music Kurmangazy, Tattimbet, Dina, Sugir, Dauletkerey, Glinka, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Beethoven, among others.

Initially the orchestra was assembled as a dombra ensemble. Photo credit: kurmangazy.com

The orchestra employs dozens of talented musicians with a repertoire that includes over 4,000 pieces. The dombra, kobyz, and sherter are the folk instruments played by the orchestra’s musicians.

Folk music fans will enjoy an extensive program presenting a diverse mix of traditional Kazakh music and international classics.

Looking ahead to June, the orchestra plans a concert in Italy and a tour through several cities in southern and western Kazakhstan.

“Within Kazakhstan, we will tour the Zhambyl and Kyzylorda regions. We will also be opening the major festival in Atyrau this year, honoring the 200th birthday of our ancestor Kurmangazy. One of our other plans is to create a music video for the well-known ‘Adai’ and ‘Saryarka’ pieces,” said Kuanyshev.

Plans for June include the “Kurmangazy” performance with the Mukhtar Auezov Drama Theater. The orchestra will also organize a national drumming competition in October.

Today, the orchestra employs dozens of talented musicians with a repertoire that includes over 4,000 pieces. Photo credit: kurmangazy.com

The orchestra’s chief conductor Abylai Tlepbergen said the prejudice that traditional music concerts are characterized by monotony is no longer valid. The attitudes of young people towards this art form have shifted dramatically, to some extent, due to the orchestra’s presence on social media, he said.

He also highlighted the key achievements of the kobyz players, Asel Rakhimzhan and Zairagul Suyekenova, who have received honorable prizes at international competitions.

“Kobyz melodies are part of the world’s classical repertoire. Today, kobyz can be heard on stages worldwide and is easily incorporated into performances of Mozart and Beethoven,” said Tlepbergen.

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