Today we are talking to a renowned composer, performer of folk songs, laureate of numerous national and international contests Zagipa Imagazieva. Possessing an inimitable style of performance she represents Kazakhstan in various events devoted to Turkic culture.
А. К.—Zagipa Imangazievna, you have come back from a big festival in Turkish Antalya fairly recently. Tell us what kind of festival was it?
Z. I. — Yes, recently there was a big festival of Turkic heritage. It was devoted to a multi-century history of folk culture of all Turkic peoples. I represented Kazakhstan at that festival. It was an original art fair based on the folklore of the nomadic culture. Representatives of almost all countries of Central Asia gathered there. Folklore art of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Karachay-Balkaria, and even Afghanistan was presented there. Festival is a promotion of invaluable cultural heritage of Turkic peoples. The event did not have winners. It was a celebration of nomadic civilisation where all ethnicities had a chance to introduce their cultural values. By the way, all of them have common routes. It is necessary to say that folklore is much respected in Turkey. And the city of Eski§ehir where the festival took place became a cultural capital of the whole Turkic world for the duration of the event. After the festival I received invitations to guest performances in eighty Turkish cities at once.
A. K. -Congratulations! What did you manage to surprise Turkish spectators with?
.И.— Kazakh folklore has a deserved place in the world art. And recognition of the talent of our performers at the international level proves that again. At the festival I performed the songs"To-bylgy tory"and"Beybarys". Spectators received them with great enthusiasm. Ulykbek Esdaulet-uly has these very good lines:
"My language was native for Saks and Huns. In many battles, in joy and grieves my people managed to preserve it. Neither Jungars nor Shur Shuts (Chinese) succeeded in destroying it."
It is necessary to acknowledge that the Kazakh language occupies an honourable place in the group of Turkic languages. The Kazakh folklore music, in particular, its performance on dombra left no one indifferent. In addition, we have a lot in common with Turkish folklore. And sounds of dombra, which can not only relate the music of steppes, but the whole life of boundless space, produced a great impression on the audience. And there must be a good reason why I received eighty invitations at once.
A.K.— As far as I know, song "Tobylgy tory" made you really famous, it became your business card. Tell us about the history of that song.
Z.I. — The author of the lyrics of that song is a renowned akyn Dauletkerey Kapuly. I accidentally ran across a poem while reading his book "Sutti inir" ("Milk rivers"). Words made an immense impression on me. I wrote music to the words of the poem and the song of Dauletkerey akyn became part of repertoire. Indeed, it became my business card. Owing to this song I became famous on a big stage.Two years ago at the seventh patriotic song national contest "Elim menin" this song became the best in the nomination "Amanat — the Covenant of ancestors". Later on, I discovered that one of the jury members was the famous Kazakhstani art critic, folklore connoisseur BekbulatTleukhan. I didn't meet him personally before, but I think he appreciated the song "Tobylgy tory" at its true value and nominated it as the first prize winner. Later on, Bekbolat Pleukhan rendered a huge support to me. He helped me to bring this song, so to say, to the international stage. He gave me financial support. It was him, who advised me to add the sounds of the wolf howling, the saxaul rustling and the sounds of dombra in the arrangement. And due to that the song began to convey the life of the steppe. It was enthusiastically welcorned by the audience. The song also received a deserved international recognition. Not long ago I visited Uzbekistan as a guest performer and Uzbek spectators admired it. They recognized that the song was the voice of the Kazakh steppe, the voice of the whole Kazakh people. The head of the culture department of the Kazakh diaspora Nurlan Egemberdiev invited me to perform inTashkent. And l am planning to give a concert in the biggest cultural centre of Uzbekistan —"Friendship Palace".
A.K.— And how many songs do you have altogether?
Z.I.— I wrote more than twenty songs, mainly, filled with profound philosophical meaning. In general, I cannot write light songs. It is unacceptable for me. Currently, some Turkish folk songs appeared in my repertoire. I have more than 15 of them.
A. K. — At this point I would like to return to the topic of Turkic culture. We know that we have a lot in common with Turkish folk music, common routes and common values. How could you assess the level of spiritual culture?
Z.I.— You know, brotherly Turkish people revere their cultural heritage, the covenants of ancestors.
I noticed it during my last visit. National applied arts are very well supported in this country and it must be noted that a substantial support comes from the government. What is the most important, people's attitude to folklore is quite reverent. It is an interesting fact that in Turkey folklore arts are developing in a more holistic manner than variety arts. Spectators and listeners attend folklore concerts with great pleasure and variety arts play a secondary role there.
A.K.— As we already pointed it out, Kazakh culture also has a very rich heritage. And in recent years there has been a rather big trend of style mix in music. For example, folklore in new arrangements is performed on the variety stage. What is your attitude to this? Some might be hailing but some might be disapproving of this kind of mix.
Z.I.— I think that it doesn't harm national culture in any way. Quite on the contrary, if a centuries-old ancient tune is enriched by modern rhythms, what is wrong with that? Of course, traditions must be observed, but not necessarily in a certain rigid, stiff and conservative form. Art is free from pedantry. When melodies and tunes change with time it is a natural process. It cannot be avoided. I think that in such cases a lot depends on the mastery of performance. Performer should convey the mood, those thoughts, which were originally embedded in the song. He should touch those strings of the soul, which he initially meant to, so that to improve the impression from listening and not vice versa. And each region has its own inimitable style. It is what the folklore performer should know to begin with. Our country is very big. It occupies an enormous territory, holding the ninth position in the world in terms of its size. And, say, performing style in Syrdarya region is different from that of steppe improvisers. Even within one region performing styles differ in different districts. For instance, in the Karmakshinsky district where Korkyt ata had been buried, so called "throat singing" is widespread.There, performance traditions are unlike any others. They even say that the axis of the Earth is in here. By the way, Korkyt ata is almost worshiped by all Turkic performers. I got my education at the Korkyt ata University. It is necessary to say, that it was him who laid the folklore art foundation for the whole Turkic world. In the Shieliy district (Kyzylorda province) there is a folklore art school called "Nartay's school" where folk songs and poetic eposes are performed in the "terme" style, as a song. In the west and in the east of the country the performing style is almost the same. But all of them have a common base. I am a representative of the"Nurtu-gan's school" from the Aral Sea region. But it doesn't mean that singers limit themselves to the style of their regional schools. As for me, I am fairly good with steppe vocal. I performed the song "Auzhar" written by famous Akan Sery. Of course, when singing, it was very important to preserve traditional steppe sounding of this song, but some difference of style however was present. The audience admired the song. I don't think I committed errors of performance, because it wasn't a spontaneous decision, but a very well thought over and weighed up step. By now, I have already included some Turkish songs in my repertoire. As I said, I am performing about 15 Turkish folk songs. For some of them we are making music videos. Please Allah, soon you will hear and see them broadcasted on musical and cultural channels. In addition, in my repertoire I have Kyrgyz and Uzbek folk songs as well as Crimea Tatars songs. In the nearest future I intend to include several Karachai folk songs. I think in future there will be songs of other Turkic nations in my repertoire.Therefore, I think any art needs fresh spirit, but thoughtless experiments are to avoid. In this respect the state should pay attention and support folklore as this is our heritage from ancestors. Our government supports culture in many ways allocating funds, organising concerts, contests and festivals. We have a rich cultural history, beautiful language, and beautiful music. All of this is our invaluable heritage. It is important to make the number of true connoisseurs of this heritage increase.
K.— In one of the interviews you said that you are involved in scientific research. What are your plans and objectives in this regard?
I.— I have a lot of plans. They are all doable and will be fulfilled. My record containing six Kazakh and six Turkish folk songs is being released. We are also working on video clips for several songs. As for my scientific research, I am exploring the life and creative legacy of Yunus Emre. He is a famous Turkish poet. He is revered very much in Turkey. His works are promoted everywhere. He is buried in the city of Eski§ehir. It appeared that Yunus Emre was born in the Kazakh steppe. He is known to us as Zhunus Amre. As you can see, this only proves again how close our cultural traditions are and how many similar musical folklore traditions we have. I am also interested in secrets of Kazakh national artistic patterns. Each pattern has its own deep, philosophical meaning. Even jewellery ofthe ancient steppe has its own meaning. For instance, there are rings and earrings in the form ofthe bird's peak. So, in the past, only unmarried girls and widows wore them. It is a pity of course that nowadays the meanings of such symbols and patterns are lost, but I think that in the course of time they will be restored. K. — Thank you for your conversation. It is a very interesting and useful discussion
By Asan Kaliakhmet