Open-air performances, live sound, free entry and the incredible feedback from the audience are the common features of the Spirit of Tengri festivals of different years.
All photos provided by OnParty.Me concert photos website. Original article here:
The project was established by the national radio station Tengri FM in 2012. The first concert was held in June 2013, and the 5th anniversary in May 2017. Today, The Spirit of Tengri is a powerful cultural brand - high-quality live sound, contemporary world music and one of the most soulful musical events not just in Kazakhstan, but all over the continent of Eurasia.

The open air concerts will be held on the first weekend of the summer - June 2 and 3. The venue for the Festival is traditionally the main open-air area of the city - the Abay Square in front of the Republic Palace in Almaty. The start is at 17:00. Free entrance. The festival is supported by Almaty Akimat. The general partner of the project this year is the Magnum Cash&Carry supermarket chain. In previous years, the general partner of the festival was Also the festival is held with the support of the tour operator Tez Tour Kazakhstan. Guests are welcomed by the Hotel Kazakhstan. Technical support for the Festival is provided by KZ Sound.
In the first weekend of summer, residents and guests of Almaty will be able to watch and hear performances of great ethno world music bands from all over the world: guests from France, Israel, Spain, Australia, the Republic of Niger, Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and other countries will come to Kazakhstan. The participation in the festival has been confirmed by the African-Arabic band Speed Caravan, the Israeli group Q2A, the Uzbek project Abbos. Besides, the scene of The Spirit of Tengri will welcome a comeback of the Buryat wolves - the Shono band, and the Bashkir ethno-rockers Argymak, so dearly loved by the Kazakhstani audience.

This year the Festival will also welcome African bands, as well as performers from Spain, Israel, the Netherlands, Armenia ... Musicians from neighboring Uzbekistan will come for the first time. The event planners promise a beautiful, powerful, live show: traditionally live sound of high quality, lighting that is literally seen from space, and, of course, the Festival's signature family atmosphere.

On the eve of the sixth The Spirit of Tengri Festival, we invite you to recall the past festivals and plunge into their unforgettable atmosphere again, as well as learn from the organization team how the preparations for the 2018 festival are going, what part of the event is the most exciting for them personally and how the Spirit of Tengri makes people happy.

For the first time, the national radio station Tengri FM announced the launch of The Spirit of Tengri project in May 2012. During the year, users of social
networks cast their voices for musicians of contemporary world music, then the top chart was broadcast on the STV channel. These musicians became
participants of the first Festival of contemporary ethnic music. The debut of The Spirit of Tengri was held on June 8, 2013 in the square in front of the Mega Alma-Ata shopping mall. 12 music bands representing different corners of Eurasia took part in the Festival.
The three-hour show included performances by the bands Aldaspan, Hapanasasa, Roksonaki, Corlan and Nayi. Many of them will get rounds of applause at the festival in the following years. It is worth noting that since the very first gig the people of Kazakhstan have embraced a new musical format: it was new music for the audience, fascinating and engaging imagination.
Bolot Bairyshev at The Spirit of Tengri 2013

The second festival significantly expanded its borders both in number and geography of participants. World musicians from 10 countries performed under the sky of Almaty: Kazakhstan (Roksonaki, Aldaspan and Sharapat), Turkey (Baba Zula), Georgia (The Shin), Bashkortostan (Argymak), Buryatia (Namgar), Kyrgyzstan (Gulzada), Tuva (Radik Tyulush), Mountain Shoria (Chyltys), Ecuador (Yaric-Ecuador).
The Festival was just one day - on June 8, but at a new venue,
which later became traditional - in the Abay square in front of the Republic Palace. In addition, henceforth the open air concerts are now accompanied by a fair of Kazakh artisans. Six months later, the first DVD-edition The Spirit of Tengri was introduced and then went off the music store shelves like hot cakes within a few days after the release.
Yaric-Ecuador at The Spirit of Tengri 2014

The Festival was just one day - on June 8, but at a new venue,
which later became traditional - in the Abay square in front of the Republic
Palace. In addition, henceforth the open air concerts are now accompanied by a fair of Kazakh artisans. Six months later, the first DVD-edition The Spirit of Tengri was introduced and then went off the music store shelves like hot cakes within a few days after the release.
The festival of that year also stood out for the performance of the composition 'Otan Ana' in memory of the remarkable Kazakh musician Batyrkhan Shukenov, who had died at the end of April 2015. The famous song was performed by the participants of the Festival together with the choir of the Kazakh National Conservatory named after Kurmangazy. The social networks were flooded with such posts as: "It was full of mystic! There was a sudden storm, a thunder broke and it started to rain! But as soon as the song ended, the weather calmed down! As if the sky was crying for Batyr!"
Choir of the Kazakh National Conservatory and Aldaspan band at The Spirit of Tengri 2015

In 2016, the Festival was held on June 4-5, and was dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of Almaty. In his welcome speech Akim of Almaty Bauyrzhan Baibek noted that "Festival has become a hallmark of Almaty". Totally, that year 13 bands from nine countries from all over the world came to the Festival.
The Spirit of Tengri 2016 was marked by the final joint performance of the famous Tuvan group Huun-Huur-Tu and American DJ Carmen Rizzo, who has been twice nominated for the Grammy Award. Also there were Baba Zula (Turkey), Ayarkhaan (Yakutia), TRAD.ATTACK! (Estonia), Sintas (China), project Drums of Almaty and dombra players of the National Conservatory named after Kurmangazy.
BaBa ZuLa at The Spirit of Tengri 2016

The fifth, anniversary The Spirit of Tengri was held on May 20-21. The festival has united hundreds of musicians, ethno-music bands from more than 30 countries. Among the newcomers were Oki Dub Ainu Band (Japan), Sekou Kouyate (Guinea), Speed Caravan (France/Algeria). Now the event has its own fans: people from all over Kazakhstan - couples, families, children - come for the Festival, they schedule their travel so they could visit the Spirit of Tengri. The audience surprises with diversity: people come in jeans and T-shirts, shirts and trousers, cowboy boots and even bare-feet. And, of course, the main distinguishing features of the festival guests are their multicultural diversity and passion for experiments.

In 2017 the project The Spirit of Tengri introduced more music festivals under its own brand. First, the Almaty festival The Spirit of Tengri 2017. Then the International Festival of Nomadic Culture Nomad Way in Astana, organized jointly with the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It took place in the premises of Ethno Aul ethno-cultural complex. Over five days, more than 120 musicians appeared on the stage, representing the cultures of nomadic peoples of the world. The Festival has become annual and this year will be held in May.
More events under the brand The Spirit of Tengri were held as part of Expo 2017 Astana. Magnificent solo performances of the American-Iranian-Turkish band Niyaz and the Tunisian performer Dhaffer Youssef sold out concert Hall Energy at the Expo 2017.

Also in 2017 the first Festival of modern ethnic music The Spirit of Astana was held in Astana. The concerts took place in the square in front of the Baiterek monument. Akim of Astana Asset Isekeshev promised to make the Festival annual for the capital, adding: "I think that the Festival will be popular with Astana residents, although now there are many events going on in the city, I think this one it will take its own place here. And it will be truly appreciated by music lovers who value quality". This year it will be held as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Astana.
Sekou Kouyate at The Spirit of Tengri 2017 (Almaty)
Speed Caravan at The Spirit of Tengri 2017 (Almaty)
Namgar at Nomad Way 2017 (Astana)
The Spirit of Astana festival 2017
Niyaz at the EXPO-2017 (Astana)
The first seconds and minutes of the Festival are the most exciting!
Zhan Kasteyev
The Festival's general producer
Who and what was the Festival created for?
The Spirit of Tengri was created to develop Kazakh music in the in the world music genre. The Kazakh stage lacked a musical brand, which could represent Kazakhstan abroad. The whole world knew about nomadic Turkic music mainly through the prism of Mongolian or Tuvan and some Yakut music. We wanted to give our musicians the opportunity to perform on the same stage with world performers, exchange experience, tour, present Kazakhstani world music around the world. Today, we are still working hard following this idea.
What world festival is the closest to the event in spirit? Have you had your own followers over the years? What are you striving for?
Among the world festivals that represent nomadic culture, we are the only one of the kind. Therefore, we can't say that we look up to someone. We are unique not only in the Central Asia, but throughout the world: we have our own approach, our own concept, we will remain pioneers on this road for a long time. There are clones: small and large, support by governments and independent, commercial and non-commercial. I will not say their names, but, thankfully, there exist. This is a part of development, the step up of our root ethnic music to an international competitive level.
What are the criteria of artist selection? What year was the most memorable for you?
First of all, we invites musicians who represent nomadic culture, that is, our closest neighbors. Now the geography of the Festival has significantly expanded: we are known all over the world. Therefore, in 2018, the selection is no longer the same as at the start. If people liked the artist, we invite him again for the next year: the audience welcome warmly the artists they like. Today we mainly receive applications, but we select according to one principle: the artist should be interesting to the Kazakh audience.
What is your most favourite moment of the Festival?
For me personally, the music logo and the first moments of the Festival is the most important. The whole festival is carried one in a single burst, but it is these first seconds and minutes that give the festival a start - are perhaps the most exciting. As for emotions and energy exchange - it the whole Festival when you communicate with the project team and the visiting musicians.
What influence has the Festival had on Kazakhstan, its culture and citizens?
We are all used to the work of pop musicians, often from abroad. The Spirit of Tengri project has proved that we can represent our ethnic music to the whole world and co-exist with the entire palette of foreign musicians. Kazakh ethnic music, at last, is now taken absolutely in a different way. Finally, our musicians are turning in the direction of their own music, they are experimenting. We have a lot of plans, new ideas, based on The Spirit of Tengri. One of our most important tasks is to work for the whole world, to represent Kazakhstan with dignity. We are negotiating with international music venues, we are looking for performers who can correctly process and present our music so it would be interesting all over the world.
The project makes people happy. This is the top priority.
Sergey Maiboroda
The head director of the Festival
Please tell us how preparations for the Festival are going.
Everything depends on the number of participants, their geography, level of artists - we select the best. We work only with live sound, in ethno musicians, technical riders are much more difficult than, for example, most pop singers, hence the thoroughness of preparation. It should be borne in mind that bands bring their own musical instruments: there could be complex wind instruments, sometimes massive timpani, drums that take almost the entire space of the stage. Therefore, the installation and sound check take much longer than at
regular concerts.
What do you focus on when working on the project?
We are well aware that The Spirit of Tengri is one of the most significant and high-quality music projects in the world. This is proved by the most influential world music stages of the planet, by artists and the audience. Hence, we are proud to do it in Kazakhstan for Kazakhstanis and guests of our country! We are proud to support and develop the level set by us, declaring the unquestionable level and the skills of the performers and the exceptionally positive and benevolent context of the project itself and its content, which is focused on preserving and praising the traditions and culture of Peoples of the Great Steppe.
What are the criteria of artist selection? What year was the most memorable for you?
Marking a single one would be unfair, because every year the artists are different, the atmosphere is always different. The first festival was relatively small; the venue was different. But it was the very first, and that is its magic. We see the Festival grow every year, getting more vivid and fascinating, and today the audience and the musicians at our concerts is one big, friendly family and this is the spirit we are trying to preserve.
There are artists and bands performing every year. Do they have to show something new every time?
Of course, the audience embrace some artists with particular ardor and we so invite them again. But a new program is always required.
What is the most buzzing moment of the Festival, in your opinion?
There are a few. The first is preparation for the festival, when everything 'gets on the rails', when arrangements are made with artists and partners. The second is the period of the promotional campaign: this is an incredibly interesting story - during this period the atmosphere of the holiday is created. The third one is the moment of arrival of the artists, which is absolutely charming: you see familiar faces, meet new musicians, they prepare together for the concert, go to sound checks - it's impossible to convey in words. And, of course, the cherry on the top is the concert itself, where everyone is involved: the event planners, the musicians and the audience.
In your opinion, what influence has the Festival had on Kazakhstan, its culture and citizens?
I think that The Spirit of Tengri makes people happy. This is its top priority. Everything connected with the festival is one big joy and a celebration. The project itself, its participants and any of the periods of its preparation and carrying out make people happy.
Tell us what we should be looking forward to this year?
Summer, happiness, music and all the best.
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