Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar


Throat Singing Workshop with Altai Kai

Workshop from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tickets are $40

Here is your chance to learn the ancient art of throat singing from the world renowned members of Altai Kai. Our teachers, Urmat Yntaev, Alash Topchin, Eduard Sognokov, and Aidyn Orsulov have been recognized as masters of throat singing, and the group holds the Guinness World Record for the longest performance of throat singing. In this two-hour introductory workshop students will be split into small groups and cover the main techniques and styles of throat singing, including khoomei, sygyt, and kargyraa. All ages and skill levels are welcome.


Urmat Yntaev

Mr. Yntaev has been recognized as a People's Throat Singer ("Kaichy") of the Altai Republic. He is the grandson of Anisiya Beleeva, a prominent female throat singer who lived to be 102. In 1997, Mr. Yntaev founded the ensemble Karaty-Khan, and in 2000 renamed it to Altai Kai. He is the producer and artistic director of Altai Kai, as well as the organizer of an annual throat singing festival called Altyn-Taiga, and the annual Altai Festival of World Music. He is an undisputed master of multiple styles of throat singing, but he says his favorite style of throat singing is tumchuk-kargyraa. In 2017, Mr. Yntaev celebrated twenty years as a professional throat singer.

Alash Topchin

Mr. Topchin is a throat singer from the Kobok clan. He was born in Pasparta village in the Ulagan district. He is the nephew of the nationally renowned throat singer A.G. Kalkin. Since his early years, Mr. Topchin admired his uncle and always dreamed of following in his footsteps as a throat singer. Mr. Topchin has been with throat singing group Altai Kai since December 2009, and continues to follow in his uncle's footsteps as an ambassador of Altai folk culture. Along with being a master of multiple styles of throat singing, Mr. Topchin excels at imitating the sounds of animals, and plays several traditional Altai instruments.

Eduard Sogonokov

Mr. Sogonokov is a singer from the Kobok clan. He was born in the Ulagan village of Ulagan district. After finishing school, Edward joined the Altai State Philharmonic as a soloist. He is a distinguished graduate of the Altai Republic College of Culture and Arts, where he studied vocal performance.

Aidyn Orsulov

Mr. Orsulov is from the Saal clan. He was born in Ulagan village in the Ulagan district of Altai Republic. He is a descendant of a long lineage of Altai throat singers, and he first began practicing traditional throat singing at the age of 12. He is especially gifted in the epic genre, and performs an epic he wrote himself as part of Altai Kai's program. He plays different traditional Altai instruments, including the topshuur (a traditional Altai lute) and the ikili. He is a master in various styles of Altai throat singing, including kargyraa, khoomei, and sybysky.

Dec 27, 3pm to 5pm, Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

Altai Kai Throat Singers with Stephen Kent

Doors at 7:00 pm; Show at 7:30 pm
Tickets are $15 Advance / $18 Day of Show

Buy Tickets Here
The members of Altai Kai are throat singing virtuosos, skilled in the different styles and variations of kai (the Altai word for throat singing) and folk instruments. Their velvety, low-pitched kargyraa, mesmerizing khoomei, and melodic sygyt place the listener amidst forests of singing birds, gurgling brooks, and the growls of nighttime predators. Throat singing and the ringing melodies of the khomus (jaw harp), topshur (two-stringed lute) and accordion all come together to form the sound of Altai Kai.

Stories of nature's beauty and mighty folk heroes are accompanied by jocular melodies, dancing rhythms, and shamanic mysteries. The narrators skillfully relate traditional, sacred tales and epics of centuries past.

The ensemble was founded in 1997 by Urmat Yntaev, with the goal of preserving and cultivating the traditional culture of the Republic of Altai. Today the group is a laureate of multiple national and international competitions . In 2003, they were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest performance of throat singing. They are members of the Folklore Union of Russia, and the International Organization of Folk Art (an NGO accredited by UNESCO). Altai Kai made their international debut at WOMEX 2007 in Sevilla, Spain.

About Altai and the group's relationship with nature:

The Altai people have strong values of stewardship of the land. The region is home to the Golden Mountains of Altai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The land is remote and largely untouched, fostering unparalleled biodiversity. Altai Kai's 2017 album Altai Tele was dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the Altai Nature Reserve, a part of the Golden Mountains of Altai. The group's collaboration with the Reserve began in 2014 with their album Altai Kabai (Altai Lullaby). The compositions on that album praise the natural sites and flora and fauna of Altai. The group creates music to encourage appreciation of nature and inspire stewardship of the land in younger generations. They are popular in Altai and their 2017 debut performances of Altai Tele were sold out well in advance.

Stephen Kent
A globally acclaimed player of the ancient Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo for over 30 years Stephen Kent has pioneered its use in contemporary music across the world, collaborating with leading musicians such as Brazil's Airto Moreira, India's Zakir Hussain, Tuva's Chirgilchin, American Indian flute legend R.Carlos Nakai and Habib Koite from Mali, to name a few. His ground breaking band projects, Baraka Moon, Trance Mission and Lights in a Fat City have received widespread acclaim. As a solo performer, touring in 5 continents, he is a virtual one-man-band, producing an extraordinary layering of sounds and grooves and creating an almost orchestral ambience with this primal instrument, accompanying himself on all manner of shakers and hand percussion on musical journeys that travel deep into the heart of the earth. A commanding storyteller to boot, his dynamic performing style is highly entertaining and he revels in inviting the audience in on the journey. Stephen is also a respected radio producer, hosting KPFA's Music of the World (and now Off the Beaten Path) for the past 23 years. "If you're skeptical about being swept away by someone blowing through a hollowed-out tree branch you're in for a big surprise"  San Francisco Weekly.

Dec 27, 7:30pm to 9:45pm, Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley