Alash's winter-spring 2020 US tour was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Starting in the Midwest in February, they visited schools and performed several times with Shodekeh. They gave a throat-singing workshop and concert at Folklore Village in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, and a full week of free shows at public libraries and schools in southeast Minnesota, ending with a sold-out capstone performance in Rochester. But by the time they arrived on the east coast, the seriousness of the pandemic had become clear. The Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia, was their last stop. The remainder of their US tour and their entire summer European tour had to be canceled. So Alash went home to Tuva, hoping to return to the US in the fall.
Alash started the year 2019 by rejoining the Fifth House Ensemble for the culmination of their year-long collaboration in a unique series of concerts called Sonic Meditations (see videos). Performances followed in the West and Midwest. In St. Louis, Alash joined jazz musician Brian Owens and L.I.F.E. Arts in their project "Music Across Borders." After touring in the Southeast, Alash teamed up with Shodekeh in Baltimore, and graced Washington DC with two concerts, including one at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
In the spring and summer Alash zigzagged between Europe and Asia, first visiting Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Finland. The world music magazine Songlines gave Alash a nice review after their appearance at JuuriJuhla RotFest. Next came the Russian festival "Summer at the Vologda Kremlin," followed by workshops and the Grin Festival in Switzerland, a quick trip to Hulunbuir in Inner Mongolia, then back to Norway for the Riddu Riđđu festival (videos). In August, Alash performed at the Theatre Olympics in Toga, Japan.
A fall tour of the British Isles included a performance at the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival and an appearance on the BBC radio program Music Planet. Alash then crossed the Atlantic to tour in the eastern US, joined by Shodekeh at several events. In November Alash performed in six cities in Russia, then Prague, Bratislava, and Vienna. To top off the year, they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Alash with concerts in Abakan, Republic of Khakassia, and their home city of Kyzyl, Tuva.
During the month of February 2018, Alash toured the Inner Asian republics of the Russian Federation. In the spring, Alash traveled through the midwestern and southeastern US, presenting concerts and educational programs. They also began a year-long collaboration with the Fifth House Ensemble, an innovative chamber music group dedicated to crossing musical boundaries. The Fifth House musicians visited Alash in Tuva, and in July they performed with Alash in Kyzyl and Moscow.
In August, Alash returned to North America for concerts and festivals in the US and Québec, Canada. These included a Tribal Rhythms gathering in upstate New York, the Riverside Concerts World Music Series in Minnesota, and the Zones Musicales festival in Laval, Québec. Their most unusual performance was an outdoor concert at sunrise in Forillon National Park, Gaspé, Québec, on a cliff by the sea, for the Festival Musique du Bout du Monde.
A fall European tour brought Alash to France, Italy and Austria, and culminated in a four-day music camp in the French Pyrenees.
During the 2017 winter tour of the US and in keeping with their mission to educate Western audiences about Tuvan throat singing and Tuvan culture, Alash appeared on Science Friday in a segment called The Science of of Tuvan Throat Singing, which aired on NPR on March 10, 2017. They were also reunited with their friends Hazmat Modine, Shodekeh, Jeff Coffin, and Victor "Futureman" Wooten.
The summer US 2017 tour was a whirlwind of festivals, from the Unifier Roots Gathering in Lunenberg, MA to California Worldfest in Grass Valley, CA, with a few club performances in between. At Joe's Pub in New York City they teamed up with Andrew Sheron to create TuvaGrass, a blending of Tuvan and Bluegrass music. One memorable moment was Ana's impromptu clogging to the singing and xomus playing of Ayan-ool Sam. (The clogging starts halfway through the video.)
In October 2017, Alash toured Mexico for the first time. They performed in the ornate 18th century Templo de la Valenciana in Guanajuato as part of the Festival Internacional Cervantino, the most important international artistic and cultural event in Mexico and Latin America. Other Mexican destinations included Baja California Sur, Mexico City, and a cultural festival in Sinaloa. In the US, they performed at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City, sponsored by the World Music Institute; collaborated with beat boxer Shodekeh at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Maryland; participated in the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina; and played at the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival in Bloomington, Indiana.
Alash started their 2016 tour by giving a TED talk/performance at the TEDxBaltimore Outlier Conference. They were joined by their friend and frequent collaborator, the beatboxer Shodekeh. After the TED talk, Alash raced up to NY to participate in the APAP conference. Then they crisscrossed back and forth between the East Coast and the Midwest, giving concerts and conducting school workshops. Despite an unusually cold night, they packed the house at the Dweck Center in Brooklyn, NY (the center had to bring in folding chairs, and people stood in the aisles) and they received a standing ovation. Alash ended the tour at the University of Chicago, and then embarked on the three-day trip back to Kyzyl.
WOMAD UK 2016 (The World's Music Festival) was the first stop on Alash's fall tour. After WOMAD, Alash performed in and around London for a week before heading to the US and the Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing, Michigan. The band then journeyed back forth between the Midwest and the East, and up and down the East Coast giving concerts and workshops and appearing at the Purple Pig Music Festival in Naples, New York as well as the American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine. They concluded the tour at the 2016 World Music festival in Shanghai, China.
Early in the spring tour, Alash released their third studio album, Achai (Father), dedicated to the late Kongar-ool Ondar, whom they regard as their musical father. To celebrate, Creative Alliance hosted a special concert in Baltimore featuring Alash, beatboxer Shodekeh, who is a guest artist on the album, and other special guests. Alash also introduced Tuvan music to thousands of new fans during their month-long residency at the Festival of Nations at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The tour concluded with eight days in the UK, where they performed six concerts and appeared on World On 3, BBC Radio 3's world music program. (listen)
In their busy fall tour, Alash crisscrossed the continental United States. One new destination was Troy, Alabama, where they performed at Troy University, a senior center, and several schools. One group of schoolchildren was so excited that they wouldn't let the band leave until every child had an autograph. The tour ended with an appearance at the 28th Annual Chinggis Khan Memorial Ceremony, hosted by the Mongol American Cultural Association.
The spring US tour included the Midwest, Mid Atlantic, Texas, and Tennessee. In Baltimore, Alash again teamed up with beatboxer Shodekeh, and they conducted a special workshop at Victor Wooten's music camp, Center for Music and Nature in Only, Tennessee, outside of Nashville.
In June, Alash brought their Tuvan music to Beijing for the first time. They performed at Mako Live House (麻雀瓦舍), the Central Conservatory of Music (中央音乐学院), and Minzu University (中央民族大学), among other venues.
In July, Alash participated in the First China Xöömei Festival, the first festival of traditional Asian overtone singing (呼麦) to be held in China. The festival, jointly organized by Tuva and China, took place in the city of Manzhouli, just across the Siberian border with Russia, slightly east of Inner Mongolia. Participants came from Inner Mongolia, Mongolia, China, Tuva, Altai, Khakass, and one each from Spain, Australia, Japan and the USA. Alash won First Prize and Chirgilchin won Grand Prix.
Later in July, Alash returned to Kyzyl for the 7th International Throat Singing Symposium and Festival, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tuva and the International Research Centre for Xöömei. This year's festival was dedicated to the late Kongar-ool Ondar. Ethnomusicologists and performers from around the world gathered to celebrate the wide diversity of throat singing cultures in the regions of Inner Asia, Siberia and beyond.
During the fall US tour, Alash was honored to participate in the conference Change Makers for a Better World, Conversations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The conference, sponsored by The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, was held on October 31 in Cambridge, MA. A high point was the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama in person. Another highlight of the tour was a joint performance with the legendary group Huun Huur Tu in Pittsburgh. On a lighter note, while Bady-Dorzhu Ondar waited for his bayan to be repaired in Philadelphia, he gave an impromptu performance at Liberty Bellows.
To finish the year, Alash celebrated its 15th anniversary with a special concert in Kyzyl, Tuva, on 20 December 2014.
Fire and ice ushered in the spring tour. First, customs officials at Boston's Logan Airport confiscated and burned Alash's duyuglar and xapchyk, two traditional Tuvan percussion instruments made from animal parts. Then the February 2013 blizzard assailed the Northeast, and the first three concerts had to be cancelled. Finally things started to look up. Alash made their first appearance at Carnegie Hall, where they received two standing ovations. Then they traveled along the Atlantic seaboard, through the Midwest, and into Texas. One of their more interesting collaborations was a jam session with the Baltimore Boom Bap Society, a hip-hop group dedicated to experimentation and dialogue with other forms of music.
In the summer, Sean Quirk served as curator of the Tuvan delegation to the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC. The theme was One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage, and Sean was honored to work with another of the festival's curators, the renowned linguist K. David Harrison of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Alash itself was not at the Festival.
The fall 2013 tour included the first ever three-way collaboration of Alash, American roots band Hazmat Modine, and beatboxer Shodekeh in a high-energy and very unusual concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. Alash also collaborated with bassist Garth Stevenson and singer Annie Lynch in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As always, they conducted workshops at schools, bringing a taste of Tuvan culture to American youngsters.
The 2012 tour began with a series of workshops in schools, introducing American youngsters to Tuvan music and culture. Next came performances throughout the West and Midwest, many of them at colleges and universities. Alash wrapped up their spring tour with a lively concert in New York City that blended several music genres, joining forces with bassist Garth Stevenson, singer Annie Lynch, and beatboxer Shodekeh.
Alash started their spring season with a concert at the American Center in Moscow. They then traveled to the UK, where they kicked-off their tour by performing at a football match. Next they went to the US, where they traveled through Western and Midwestern states presenting concerts and workshops and performing at festivals. On the morning of May 15 in Albuquerque, NM, they got an unpleasant surprise. Overnight their car had been broken into, and all their instruments were gone (news report). Fortunately, they were able to finish the tour using borrowed instruments. By the end of the tour, Alash's latest CD, Buura, was released.
During their fall US tour, Alash traveled up and down the east coast and westward to Pennsylvania. Audiences were treated to songs from Alash's new album, Buura. Their full schedule of concerts, workshops, radio and TV appearances included collaborations with members of the American band The Horse Flies and bassist Garth Stevenson.
As winter turned to early spring, Alash traveled through the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Texas, giving concerts and conducting workshops at schools and colleges for almost three months. The Princeton Arts Council posted a video of their performance, and Abigail Mahnke of KOOP 91.7FM in Austin, Texas conducted an extensive interview with Sean Quirk about his life in Tuva for her show "Inner Views." The group ended its tour with a recording session in Nashville, Tennessee, when the city was recovering from serious floods.
In September, Alash took part in the 7th Annual Mystic Music Festival in Konya, Turkey. This international festival strives to introduce mystical music traditions of the world while promoting interaction and communication among various faiths by emphasizing mystic music. While in Turkey, Alash also performed in the nearby city of Karaman at the invitiation of the city's mayor. Then they briefly toured in Germany and the Czech Republic.
In December, Alash toured the west coast of Canada and the United States with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones to promote the Flecktone's holiday CD Jingle All the Way, on which Alash appeared as guest artists. The CD later won a Grammy Award.
Alash started the spring of 2009 by participating in South By Southwest (SWSX), the popular music festival held annually in Austin, Texas (review). They performed at several other venues in Texas before heading north to Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. At the University of Connecticut they were not only the inspiration for Tuva Day but its main attraction. Next they traveled west to Wisconsin and Illinois, where they gave concerts and workshops at the University of Chicago's International House and other schools.
In June, Ayan-ool Sam and Sean Quirk were among the international experts teaching new vocal techniques to Roomful of Teeth, a twelve-voice ensemble that seeks to learn a wide a range of vocal techniques from different cultures and incorporate them into new vocal music. See a video of Ayan-ool with yodeler Kerry Christensen.
Further into the summer, Alash toured the US from Vermont to Virginia. They appeared at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington DC, the Grassroots Festival (video), and the Lowell Folk Festival (video1, video2). In Philadelphia they collaborated with friends from the Sun Ra Arkestra at the Rotunda. They appeared live on two public radio stations, and they taught an intensive three-day workshop at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Members of the Roomful of Teeth, who had studied with Ayan-ool Sam and Sean Quirk in June, came to meet and hear the entire ensemble play to a standing-room-only crowd at Barbès in Brooklyn.
Returning to the US in December, Alash toured the Midwest and South with the legendary American band Béla Fleck & the Flecktones to promote their holiday CD Jingle All the Way, which features Alash as guest artists. The reviewer for the Denver Post wrote, “As electrifying as the Flecktones’ performance was, the band were nearly upstaged by Alash Ensemble, a quartet of throat singers from Tuva.” Read full reviews in the Denver Post, The Capital Times, and the Star Tribune. See also videos from the tour.
In a whirlwind January tour of the northeastern US, Alash gave a concert or conducted a workshop (sometimes both) every day for 21 days straight. They played to packed houses in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, New Haven, Ithaca, New York, and Ellsworth, Maine. At the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alash collaborated with a string quartet, playing music arranged by Ayana Samiyaevna Mongush, director of the Tuvan National Orchestra. In Philadelphia they joined forces with their friends the Extra Special Terrestrial Guests. At the New England Conservatory, they visited music theory classes and presented a superb lecture/performance. At a workshop at Yale University, they were overwhelmed by the number of students who wanted to try throat singing. In Vermont, Maine, and New York, they shared their music and culture with elementary, middle and high school students.
Alash returned to the US at the end of the year to present concerts and school workshops in Texas, the Midwest, and the Northeast (see video of Alash singing for a kindergarten class), and they collaborated with their friends the Extra Special Terrestrial Guests in Philadelphia (listen). Highlighting this tour were joint appearances with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones to promote Jingle All the Way, the new Flecktones CD featuring Alash as guest artists. Most people in these audiences were hearing Tuvan throat singing for the first time, and they went wild for Alash.
In spring 2007 Alash returned to the US to present concerts and workshops in schools and colleges on the east coast, in the Midwest, South, and Texas. One school principal in Texas reported that children were trying to throat-sing while walking through the halls. Alash also performed at charity events and music festivals (see video clips of Alash at the Make Music New York festival). In Washington DC and elsewhere, Alash shared the stage with the American jazz band Extra Special Terrestrial Guests (listen). The DC performance was reviewed by the Washington Post, which described Alash as “utterly stunning” and quipped that after the performance the audience “picked their jaws up off the floor.” During this tour, Alash also released their second CD, called simply Alash.
In Tuva in August, Alash, Chirgilchin, and Oktai were the featured performers at a private concert for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Albert II of Monaco. The two leaders were in Por-Bazhyn, Tuva, to see the archaeological excavation of a fortress. They were treated to an evening of traditional Tuvan music, and Putin was quite amazed by the throat singing. Sean Quirk performed with Alash and even sang a solo in the kargyraa style. Afterwards, he chatted with the President. (video)
Alash's first tour of the US was in February and March, 2006. Their visit was sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. CEC ArtsLink hosted the musicians during their stay. Accompanied by their mentor Kongar-ool Alash, the group played to sell-out crowds of enthusiastic fans. The tour was initially scheduled for three weeks of performances in New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, but it was so successful that it was extended to include additional concerts and workshops in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois.