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CalArts plays part in Kazakhstan cantata premiere

Posted: March 16, 2011 3:21 p.m.
Updated: March 16, 2011 5:00 p.m.

Renowned artists from the United States and Kazakhstan create a groundbreaking large-scale musical project, The Silent Steppe Cantata, scheduled for a world premiere in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Friday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the newly restored Kazakh State Zhambyl Philharmonic Hall.

Described by the Kazakh press as one of the most important classical contemporary musical events of the past 40 years in Central Asia, the music is composed by Anne LeBaron, an American composer of "uncommon imagination" (The Washington Post), and the first American woman to work with a major orchestral ensemble in Central Asia.

The cantata will showcase the talents of the young "charismatic" (The Los Angeles Times) Kazakh-American tenor Timur Bekbosunov, with the Sazgen Sazy Ensemble of indigenous Instruments, and a womens choir. The three-year process to write and produce the cantata is the subject of a documentary by critically acclaimed American filmmaker Sandra Powers, which will be shown preceding the premiere.

For many centuries, the territory of ancient Kazakhstan was an important meeting center of civilizations throughout Central Asia. The original motherland of Huns and Turks, it also lays claim to being the birthplace of apples. Modern Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in the world, is a melting pot of different cultures.

The libretto for the cantata, narrated and sung in a mixture of Kazakh, Russian and English languages, will tell a coming-of-age story of Kazakhstan through the centuries, and from the perspective of a child in search of social justice and peace.

The Silent Steppe Cantata is produced with funding from City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, CEC ArtsLink, Art of Opera Foundation, California Institute of the Arts, and Center for Cultural Innovation with additional support provided by the City of Almaty Department of Culture and the Embassy of Kazakhstan to the United States.

Additional information about The Silent Steppe Cantata:

Primary sponsors of The Silent Steppe Cantata are City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and CEC ArtsLink Foundation, New York. Supporting sponsors are City of Almaty Department of Culture; California Institute of the Arts; the Art of Opera Foundation; Official Hotel - Rixos Almaty and KCell.

Special thanks: the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, D.C. and His Excellency Erlan Idrissov; Embassy of the United States of America in Astana; Kazakhstan Institute of Management and Planning (KIMEP); American Corners, Almaty Branch; Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State of California.

Anne LeBaron, composer
Widely recognized for her work in instrumental, electronic and performance realms, Anne LeBaron's compositions have won many awards and prizes, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Fromm Foundation Commission, a three-year residency in Washington D.C. sponsored by Meet the Composer and the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, along with fellowships from the D.C Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts and the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.

More recently, she won a Multi-Arts Production Fund from Rockefeller Center. Her opera "Wet" premiered at REDCAT in Los Angeles, about which Los Angeles Times wrote "Wet is an ambitious and alarming new opera with strong music by Anne LeBaron. LeBaron's writing for the instrumental ensemble is full of invention." The range of LeBaron's musical language can be heard many recordings released on New World Records, CRI, Tellus/Mode and Ear-Rational.

Visit for more information.

Timur Bekbosunov, opera singer
Emerging tenor Timur Bekbosunov has performed with Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in the Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the Hollywood Bowl. He made his debut with the Santa Cecilia Academy in a new opera by Silvano Bussotti. He sang the role of Electrician in "Powder Her Face" in West Coast Premiere under the direction of composer Thomas Ades, and premiered the tenor part in Robert Woodruff's production of Oedipus, composed by Evan Ziporyn.

His performance with Devotchka was praised by The Wall Street Journal as "gratifying moments and program's promise fulfilled." He covered the role of Shepherd in the L.A. Philharmonic's production of Oedipus Rex, with staging by Peter Sellars.

Additional engagements include Long Beach Opera, Opera Roma and YAP Israeli Opera. He has received full fellowships from CalArts and the New England Conservatory, and premiered the works of Gil Shohat, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Anne LeBaron and Geoffrey Pope. He created the role of Walter Spies with the renowned Bang on a Can All-Stars Ensemble.

For more information, visit

Sandra Powers, filmmaker
A graduate of the prestigious film program at the California Institute of the Arts, the mysterious and fantastical films works of Sandra Powers have been presented at the EXiS Film Festival (South Korea), Festival Contre Nature (France), Tallgrass Film Festival, Wimbledon Short Films Festival (England), 11th Freeways Hollywood Festival of Media (USA), Boston Film Festival (USA), KIMEP and Echo Park Film Center.

Most recently, her film "Autumn" was acquired for distribution by MOVIEOLA, a short film movie channel. She is a founder of "Masque Films", a music video production company that creates unusual and unconventional cinematic works.

For more information, visit

Sazghen Sazy National Folk Chamber Orchestra, Zhamat Temirgaliyev, conductor
National folk-ethnographic chamber orchestra Sazghen Sazy was established in 1981 under the State Museum of Kazakh national musical instruments. Sazghen Sazy has quickly acquired wide recognition and admiration among lovers of enchanting folk music.

The orchestra has successfully toured abroad and performed in many countries of the world, including Switzerland, India, Yugoslavia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Holland, Turkey, Italy, Spain, China, Austria, Greece and France.



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