Chirgilchin, champions of the annual Tuvan throat-singing contest, return to the Rubin Museum of Art

New York, NY— Performance artist Laurie Anderson is to make a guest appearance at the Summer Solstice concert with Chirgilchin, the national throat-singing champions from the Russian Federal Republic of Tuva on Wednesday, June 21. This all-acoustic concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased by calling 212.620.5000 ext. 344. Workshops with the Tuvan musicians will be held at the Museum prior to the concert Sunday June 18 through Wednesday June 21.

The performance artist Laurie Anderson first met the three male vocalists at their first New York appearance in June 2005. So taken by their vocal technique, she decided to take part in the following morning’s throat-singing workshop at the Museum. This led to an invitation by Laurie to collaborate on some studio sessions later in the year. “I first heard Chirgilchin at the Rubin Museum [of Art] in the spring of last year and I was immediately entranced with their incredible sounds—both instrumental and vocal. I immediately attended their workshop and became more involved with their process. In October, through the help of the Trust for Mutual Understanding, I was able to spend two days with them in a studio in New York. These sessions were amazing and magical for me. […] We quickly moved into new musical territory. We bonded on several levels and began to make sounds that neither one of us would make on our own.”

Recognized worldwide as a leader in the groundbreaking use of technology in the arts, the guest appearance by Laurie Anderson at this concert will mark another departure her: this will be an all-acoustic performance. Chirgilchin’s Aldar Tamdyn crafts the horse-head fiddles and other instruments that the group plays. He is joined by Igor Koshkendey and Mongoun-Ool Ondar. Tuva is the only republic in the world whose chief export is its folk music. This group of three male vocalists represents the best of the younger generation of Tuvan musicians and was brought together by Alexander Bapa, the founder of the popular throat-singing group Huun Huur Tu who have successfully toured the nation multiple times.

The word chirgilchin means either “mirage” or “miracle” in the Tuvan language. Throat-singing, or “overtone singing,” is the audible expression of producing two or more notes at once. This startling technique was developed in response to the sounds of the natural environment in which Central Asian nomadic tribes roamed. A particularly rich throat-singing tradition survives in Tuva and neighboring Mongolia. In these areas, marked by vast grasslands and mountain ranges, throat singing is called khöomei. The singer produces overtones by varying the shape of his mouth and pharynx; as a result two, three, or even four distinct tones can be heard at once. The fundamental tone remains constant, while melodies are sung with the highest overtone, resembling the sound of a flute.