Mongolian folk trio to play Central Music Festival

As the Altai Khangai trio from Mongolia tunes up its horse head fiddles and prepares for some throat singing, Central Music Festival-goers should prepare for atmospheric music like they’ve never heard before.

The Altai Khangai trio’s folk melodies are said to be as expansive as the Mongolian steppes.

As the Altai Khangai trio from Mongolia tunes up its horse head fiddles and prepares for some throat singing, Central Music Festival-goers should prepare for atmospheric music like they’ve never heard before.

The trio’s folk melodies are as expansive as the Mongolian steppes and are very pleasant to listen to, said Deb Rasmussen, a Calgary musician who’s touring with the Mongolian band.

At the same time, she believes the traditional music can seem ominous, even eerie, when khoomii, or throat singing, is introduced.

Male Mongolian khoomii singers, such as Altai Khangai member Ganzorig, can somehow produce multiple sounds at the same time from deep in their throats — everything from heavy rumbles to whistles. “It’s very powerful,” said Rasmussen,

The Calgary resident has worked as an agriculture development consultant in Mongolia since 1996, but has only recently been collaborating with Mongolians on her other passion — music.

Rasmussen moonlights as a jazz vocalist with Calgary’s Northern Lights quartet, a collective comprised of some of Calgary’s most popular freelance musicians, who perform a mixture of traditional and contemporary jazz. Her group will team up with Altai Khangai for musical fusion concerts around Alberta and British Columbia this summer.

Central Alberta Music Festival-goers will hear both groups on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 15, when the Northern Lights Ensemble briefly shares the stage with Altai Khangai, after the Mongolian trio does a set of traditional music.

The idea behind the collaboration is to blend jazz into traditional Mongolian music and the sounds of Mongolian music into jazz, said Rasmussen.

The resulting hybrid will be something entirely new.

While people might think that groups from two different continents would have disparate styles, both musical traditions echo and compliment each other, added the singer, who sees many similarities between Mongolians and Canadians.

“Among the strong similarities is an independent spirit, and a real willingness to try new things and explore the world,” said Rasmussen, who likens Mongolians to enterprising North American pioneers who learned to exist in a hostile environment.

While the Northern Lights ensemble, including guitarist Keith Smith, bassist Simon Fisk and Robin Tufts on percussion, tries to develop music that conjures up the spacious feeling of the Canadian Prairies, traditional Mongolian music is also very evocative of that country’s steppes, grasslands, deserts and snow-capped mountains, she said.

“Listen to it and you can just about feel the big, wide-open spaces on the Mongolian plains and hear the horses running. It’s very nice music to listen to.”

Besides throat singer Ganzorig (Mongolians tend to go by one name), the trio is also made up of Ganbold and Odontungalag, who provide singing accompaniment and play the morin khuur (horse head fiddle), khuchuur, which is like the Chinese erhu.

Ganbolt and Odontungalag are both instructors at the College of Music and Dance in Ulaanbaatar, Monoglia. Ganbolt and Ganzorig play together in the duo/ensemble called Altai Khangai (sometimes Altai Hangai). Odontungalag was drafted by Altai Khangai for this project.

The Altai Khangai trio, with special guests the Northern Lights Ensemble, will perform at about 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Central Music Festival, just north of Red Deer and off the C&E Trail. (More complete directions are on the website: www.centralmusicfest.com.)

A pass for the two-day festival that starts on Friday, Aug. 14, is $55 ($45 for students/seniors), a one-day pass is $40 for any age (kids are free when accompanied by a paying adult) from the Black Knight Ticket Centre or Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Avid Penhold climber Catlin Hannah’s death a reminder of the dangers of scrambling

Hannah never returned from his Mount Smuts attempt on Aug. 12.

Children, elderly at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

VANCOUVER — Thick smoke blanketing British Columbia communities far from any flames… Continue reading

Trudeau: no apologies for heckler encounter, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

OTTAWA — Hate speech and the politics of division are creating a… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP charge woman with drug trafficking

Rocky Mountain House RCMP have charged a woman with drug trafficking after… Continue reading

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the… Continue reading

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

ESCUMINAC, N.B. — Ottawa has announced $189 million for an employment insurance… Continue reading

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in next year’s election

MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau will run again in the 2019 federal election.… Continue reading

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

VANCOUVER — More smoky, hazy air is expected to blanket much of… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline protesters released days before weeklong jail sentences end

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. — Several pipeline protesters were released from a British… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month