articles / Pop Culture

A Breathtaking Musical Journey Through Kazakhstan: Part 3 + 4

congress-hall-from-distanceThe Silent Steppe Cantata was performed here at Congress Hall on December 11, 2011 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Photo by Anne LeBaron.

Kazakhstan is a country that’s finding itself. Twenty-five years after it stepped out of the Soviet Union’s shadow, it’s now on the path to define it’s own independent identity. Through art and music it’s reclaiming its ancient history and folk traditions. It’s combing those traditions with the best of its recent Soviet past to create a uniquely modern Kazakh identity. In the final two parts of this special four part series produced by Adriana Cargill for Arts Alive (Saturdays at 8AM, and available as a podcast), we experience a country in the process of reinventing its own identity through music. We’ll also hear how Kazakhstan is connected to our own classical music community right here in L.A.

timur-and-anne-lebaron-in-astanaTimur and composer Anne LeBaron in Astana, Kazakhstan just days before the premiere of the Silent Steppe Cantata. Photo by Sandra Powers.

timur-singing-silent-steppe-cantataTimur singing onstage at the world premiere of the Silent Steppe Cantata in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photo by Sandra Powers.

wild-horses-near-altyn-etel-national-parkHorses near Altyn-Etel national park. Horses were revered animals by the ancient nomads that roamed the steppes of Kazakhstan. Photo by Anne LeBaron.

In episode 3, we follow the LA Phil’s Chad Smith as he journeys to Astana, Kazakhstan to see the world premiere of the Silent Steppe Cantata. The performance is the culmination of years of work by internationally renowned CalArts composer Anne LeBaron and L.A. based Opera singer Timur. The Cantata is inspired by the history of Kazakhstan, Timur’s home country. It’s a powerful work that reflects the country’s nomadic past and the tragedies it suffered under Soviet Union control; but it’s also a rumination on the transformative power of music to define and shape one’s own identity and destiny.

anne-lebaron-jeffrey-sexton-chad-smithComposer Anne LeBaron (left), the US Consul Jeffrey Sexton (center) and LA Phil’s Chad Smith (right) chatting at the reception in honor of the Silent Steppe Cantata couple of days before the premiere in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photo by Jared Washburn.

Listen to Part 3 below:

A Breathtaking Musical Journey Through Kazakhstan: Part 3 + 4


brenda-barnes-chris-mendez-radio-classicKUSC President Brenda Barnes and KUSC head of digital media Chris Mendez upon their arrival at the airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo by Brenda Barnes.

In episode 4, KUSC’s President Brenda Barnes and Chris Mendez, the director of new media, travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan to help the fledgling classical radio station Radio Classic. It’s the first-ever classical music station in Central Asia and brainchild of the famous Kazakh pianist Zhania Aubakirovoi and Rashuan Jumaniyazova. We’ll hear about their adventures ice-skating at the foothills of the Himalayas, teaching master classes and their experience with Kazakhstan’s generous hosting culture. Although they went there to teach, Barnes and Mendez ended up learning some lessons too. Cultivating and supporting the classical music community worldwide is important to KUSC and it’s their belief that including diverse voices is part of what makes the L.A. art scene world class.

Listen to Part 4 below:

A Breathtaking Musical Journey Through Kazakhstan: Part 3 + 4


ice-skating-rinkThe ice skating rink that KUSC President Brenda Barnes and head of digital media Chris Mendez visited with Rashaun Jumaniyazova at the foothills of the Himalayas. Photo by Chris Mendez.

raushan-jumaniyazova-bubarRaushan Jumaniyazova, her husband Bubar and their 7-year-old son. Photo by Brenda Barnes.

raushan-jumaniyazova-radio-classic-officeRaushan Jumaniyazova at the offices of Radio Classic in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo by Brenda Barnes.

radio-classic-staff-brenda-barnesThe staff of Radio Classic with KUSC President Brenda Barnes (center) and head of digital media Chris Mendez (to her left) and Raushan Jumaniyazova (center right) . Photo by Brenda Barnes.

inside-radio-classicProducer Aliya Iskakova in the Radio Classic studios. Photo by Chris Mendez.


Written by:
Adriana Cargill
Adriana Cargill
Published on 05.22.2018