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'Huun-Huur-tu's Workshop at an Art Camp for American Schoolchildren

The throat-singing and exotic music of nomadic Siberian horsemen filled Harris House on Tuesday, as dozens of children in Atlantic Center for the Arts' summer art camp looked on in wonder. East Volusia is reporting in 'Children in Summer Art Program Find Tuvan Music Mesmerizing' by Melanie Stawicki Azam. "Wow," exclaimed one boy, as one of the musicians harmonized using horse hoofs as instruments.

The four-man group, Huun-Huur-Tu, is on tour locally for the Florida International Festival, but stopped by for a visit to share their ancient folk music and culture with the roughly 60 young campers in the ACA's Children's Art Summer Program.

"How do you do that?" one young camper asked about the unusual sounds the men made with their throats.

"We start at your age," said musician Sayan Bapa with a smile.

The men added that their vocal sounds were not something they learned in school, but was a skill passed onto them from their ancestors. The children also were fascinated with the group's collection of special instruments made of wood, horse hair and animal skins.

"Is that real snakeskin?' asked Destiny Johnson, 9, pointing to one of the instruments. The musicians said indeed it was real snakeskin.

The Tuvans, a South Siberian Turkic people, preserve what are arguably some of the world'soldest forms of music-making. The best known genre of Tuvan music, throat-singing, comprises natural sounds transformed into musical representations. The Tuvans were nomadic shepherds and horsemen and their throat-singing evolved as a folk form.

Mary McBride, ACA programs manager, said the international performance is a special way to wrap up the last week of summer art camp.

"Hopefully, they'll give them some singing lessons," she said with a smile.

In past years, campers have been treated to a Chinese musical group and monks creating intricate mandala patterns with sand. Sometimes the performers stay at ACA's residency center and can work in a local visit, she said.

McBride said the visit by Huun Huur Tu also coincides nicely with the ACA camp program, focusing on Asia this week. ACA's children's multidisciplinary art program began June 7 and ends Friday -- with each four-day session focused on folk art from a different region of the world.

East Volusia online journal
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