Samarkand is a native land of many famous scientists and philosophers, poets and musicians, artists and politicians. From time immemorial, art traditions and music were preserved and developed there. The art of makoms (the system of 12 makoms, «Shashmakom»), various ritual songs, instrumental melodies, dastans, karsaka and ashula formed the musical life of Samarkand, performed by national musicians, singers, hafizes and bahshi — shoirs. The famous bastaks and scientists Abdulkadir Maragi and Abdurahman Djami as well as musician, singer and bastakor Khodja Abdulaziz Abdurasulov, folk storytellers Ergash Djumanbulbul ogly, Fazil Uyldash ogly, Pulkan shoir and Islom shoir have greatly promoted the prestige of Samarkand, which became a center of big international festivals, symposiums and competitions. The International Musicological Symposium devoted to problems of oral professional art and Festival of Traditional Music are among them. From 1997, Samarkand hosts the International Musical Festival «Sharq taronalari».

Oriental Music is philosophy of the East. It occupies the important place in the world cultural space. This music penetrates into hearts, exalting and inducing the people to do the good. Oriental music, in particular, Uzbek, is differed by bright originality and rich traditions. Probably, this is that always drew attention of musicians, composers and musicologists of the world.

«Sharq taronalari», organized under the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, became an important cultural event in the international cooperation and enabled not only to establish creative contacts among musicians and scientists from different countries, but also allowed to integrate the musical processes running simultaneously in the different continents. The musicians and singers from more than forty countries of America, Europe, Asia and Africa took part in the festival. Concerts, meetings, conferences and competitions were held within the framework of the festival program. They brightly illustrated the best opportunities of the fruitful creative dialogue among musicians from different countries. That testifies to the positive processes developing in this field and supporting undying fire of musical creativity.

«Holding of Musical Festival «Sharq taronalari» in Uzbekistan, namely in Samarkand, has reasons», — said the President Islam Karimov. — «as Samarkand is considered one of the cradles of the world civilization. Tens, hundreds outstanding persons lived and worked in different periods — Amir Temur, Imam Bukhari, Mirzo Ulugbeg, Khodja Akhrar Vali, Qazi Zadeh Rumi, Sharafiddin Ali Yazdi, Davlatshoh Samarkandi, Klavijo, Nizami Gandjavi, Alisher Navoi, Abdurahman Djami, Abdurazzak Samarkandi and many others. From ancient time, Samarkand was a place where met representatives of various peoples and cultures». The festival «Sharq taronalari» is unique as its program covers almost all existing types of vocal and instrumental music (let alone genre and stylistic forms). Thanks to that, it is able to give the fullest picture of interaction among the musician, author and listener. Each concert and each competition showed either traditional and new, or duplicating each other touches to gradually developing picture of this interaction. The concept of the festival itself provided «fighting» with the practice of «end realizations» (we mean the programs of some European ensembles composed of oriental melodies and songs, originally interpreted).

The wide propagation of unique national melodies and songs, the preservation of national traditions in education of young generation, strengthening of friendship and creative cooperation between the peoples and development of cultural contacts — these are the major purposes of the International Musical Festival «Sharq taronalari».

During the last ten years, the great attention is paid to cooperation in the field of culture. In fact, the musical culture cannot develop out permanent contact with cultures of different countries and peoples. Festival «Sharq taronalari» held last week of August each two years promotes a wide exchange of achievements in the field of musical art and popularization of Uzbek as well as oriental traditional music. It shows new achievements in today’s world musical culture.

The festival has become a true holiday for thousands of people. In these days, Samarkand lived in music, which sounded everywhere — on squares and in concert halls, at the meetings in Samarkand and Tailak districts. The demonstration of competitive programs of the participants became a major musical event. It was held on the Registan in the evening, and the magnificent historical monuments were in accord both with traditional songs and melodies, and with modern popular interpretations. The festival program includes competition and concerts on three directions: folk traditional song (for the best performance of folk songs); traditional folk music (for artistic realization of folk traditions and development of oriental traditions), modern folk songs and instrumental.

The Samarkand people and guests could hear various samples of folk and traditional music, acquaint with musical instruments and styles, estimate skills of musicians and become the witnesses of modern popular interpretation of national traditions. Uzbek-Tadjik makoms, Fergana qatta ashula, Indian raga, Turkish national songs, Kirghiz manas, Azerbaijan mugams, Iranian dastgahi, Turkmen dastans, Japanese labour songs, Korean and Chinese traditional melodies and songs, Tuva songs, Arabian makams and modern folk songs of South Africa sound from the stage, Creative contacts and performances lasted deep into the night in the foyer of «Afrasiab» Hotel.

The musicians from America, Europe and Africa participated in the festival along with representatives and musicians from the countries of the East. Herman Krespo Toral (Executive Director of UNESCO’s committees on culture) noted that «UNESCO initiates many musical festivals and conferences, but the International Musical Festival «Sharq taronalari» is the most significant among them». The President of General Conference of UNESCO, Ahmad Djalali told at the opening of the IV Festival «Sharq taronalari»: «The square of Registan, located on the crossroad of the Great Silk Road and connecting the East and the West again showed that the people speaking different languages express their feelings by means of the understandable language — the language of music and songs, which makes possible the creative cooperation. We were lucky to listen to fine melodies and songs and to see aspiration of the peoples to the peace and mutual understanding. In fact, music and poetry are an instrument of dialogue among peoples without the interpreter».

The festival «Sharq taronalari» demonstrated not only the antiquity and traditional character of oriental music, but also its originality and spiritual affinity with national music and force of its influence on listeners. Greeting the participants of IV Festival, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov noted: «This forum of art… brightly shows the eternal aspiration of the people to good and beauty and how great is their need in the dialogue between different peoples and civilizations.

The art of music is a divine miracle, which always accompanies a person, enriching his inner world, calls for good and purity… This ageless truth can be felt in lullabies, which each mother sings to her child. In the different situations, on light and happy days, on days of grief and troubles, the magic force of music encourages and brings calm… The world of music has enormous influence on the people in their appeal to peacekeeping, to mercy and generosity».

The major direction of the festival is folk vocal art having behind centuries of the development. The today’s vocal art covers the different directions and styles, including folk songs, traditional vocal genres, bastakors’ songs and modern popular songs (jazz, pop and rock music). If to imagine the history and style features of musical culture of the huge region, including the Near, Middle and Far East, it is easy to associate it with a huge continent where the peoples lived for millennia, had close contacts, common tangible and cultural values, which, however, kept original national features. All that promoted the cultural interchange, which was brightly reflected at the Festival «Sharq taronalari». The program of the festival provides competitions «For the best performance of folk songs», which participants represent the best samples of national musical art. The international jury estimated the skills of the participants. The Chairman of I and II Festivals was Haruma Koshiba, Professor of Tokyo University (Japan), III Festival — Khan Meng Hee, Professor of Seoul University (Korea), IV Festival — Kim Shin Dan, Professor, President of the Korean Musical Academy (Korea). The jury included the representatives from Europe, Asia and America.

At I Festival «Sharq taronalari», Grand Prix was won by Simara Imanova (Azerbaijan), the performer of mugams; Munojat Yulchieva (Uzbekistan) and Shainu Hurama (India) won the first place. The second and third places were given to the artists from Iran, China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. Grand Prix of II Festival (1999) was given to Nasiba Sattarova (Uzbekistan); Yung Kong Song (Korea) and Muhammad Omon (Saudi Arabia) took the first place. The second and third prizes were given to the artists from India, Georgia, Pakistan and Tadjikistan. At III Festival the first place was given to Alim Kasimov (Azerbaijan) and to performers of katta ashula, Saibdjan Niyazov and Nabidjan Ibragimova (Uzbekistan). The artists from India, Georgia, Turkey and Greece took the second and third places.

Grand Prix of IV Festival was given to the ensemble «Urna-Hai» from Tuva (Russia) for the perfect performance of the folk song. The first prize was given to Dilnura Mirzakulova (Uzbekistan) and Fazila Jamshidi (Iran); the second prize — to Ozoda Ashurova (Tadjikistan) and Zabit Nabizade (Azerbaijan); the third prize — collectives from Afghanistan and Bangladesh. A few participants of the festival were awarded the special prizes of UNESCO, Samarkand regional and city administration.

The festival «Sharq taronalari» is significant by the number of participants and rich program. It attracted the interest of the wide audience in all the concert halls and stages. The festival program includes scientific conferences and meetings where the scholars discuss the today’s musicological problems, for example, «Smooth development of oriental musical art», «Musical oriental instruments», «Makomas as a phenomenon of musical art», «Vocal art of the East: problems of creativity and interpretation». The musicologists, composers, musicians and art workers take part in the conferences. The scientific conferences within the framework of the festival became a good tradition. The discussion of global issues of oriental music enables to forecast its future development.

We think that International Festival «Sharq taronalari» will play a significant role in the preservation and further development of traditional music and in education of young generation, in the synthesis of national traditions and modern music as well as in searching for new forms and means of expression. The festival will stimulate the creative initiative of artists and composers and promote the interest of listeners to national performing tradition.

Author: Rustambek Abdullaev