Hailing from the high pastures of the Altai Mountains in south central Siberia, the Tuvan acoustic quartet Huun Huur Tu’s trademark sound derives from the use of overtone or “throat-singing” techniques which were invented by the nomadic hunter-herders of the Tuvan steppes and mountains. Traditionally, these were largely performed a cappella, but Huun Huur Tu were one of the first groups to combine them with ancient acoustic instruments such as the cello-like two-stringed igil, the four-stringed byzaanchi, the three-stringed doshpuluur and thekhmomuz – a local equivalent of the Jew’s Harp. Using these with percussion and voice, they create eerie harmonics and other worldly noises, even mimicking animals. As they began touring in the West seventeen years ago, Huun Huur Tu almost single-handedly introduced the outside world to the boundless wealth of Tuvan traditions, thanks in great part to their superior musicianship.
Canadian-American pianist James Carson has developed a striking new style of piano music and for the last four years has been directing Cabin Music, a feature film, to share it with the world. While studying at the New England Conservatory, James was struck by a spiritual epiphany which sparked a twelve year search to create and share this music with the world. He subsequently spent two years backpacking from Spain to Japan and then spent five years designing, building, and practicing in a remote strawbale cabin in Northern Alberta. The music result was a new piano technique that is blindingly fast but at the same time meditative and harmonious, similar to the leaves on a tree in the wind. He has since moved to New York and been collaborating with different artists on his film. This concert holds a particular importance to James as he traveled extensively in Tuva during his travels and survived a near-fatal car accident in the Altai Mountains.