From remote west Mongolia came a master of one of the most remarkable vocal traditions on the planet. It is the sound of heaven and earth. One person sings two different pitches at the same time! It is the sound of the wind blowing in sympathetic vibration with Black Water Lake and echoing through the eternal snow capped peaks and valleys of the Jargalant Altai Mountains.
Listening to Tserendaava, a maestro Khöömii (Overtone or Throat) singer as this style is called, you can simultaneously hear a clear flute/whistle like melody, which has arisen from a strong low guttural drone. In singing this Khöömii melody inspired by the sound of nature, Tserendaava has understood the nature of sound, overtones or harmonics.
Tserendaava is a living tradition, unlike the recent rock/classical influenced throat singing groups that have been touring Europe in recent years. He was born and still lives and breathes the sounds of the legendary landscape of Khöömii. He is respected within his community as a performer and teacher of his seven styles of Khöömii and has been a key informer for both Mongolian and European ethnomusicologists.
Michael Ormiston who was taught by Tserendaava in Mongolia in 1993 and Candida Valentino one of the only European woman to have travelled to Mongolia to learn this remarkable art, invited Tserendaava to perform and teach Khöömii in Europe. Tserendaava in return asked them to perform in concert with them and to assist in the teaching of Khöömii.
The concerts and workshops were the first collaboration between Mongolian and British Musicians in Europe.
Tserendaava arrived at Gaunts House in Dorset England directly from Mongolia. It was great to see him in the flesh since 2000 and at last realise my promise to him that I would organise him to come to Europe. We met in the bar at Gaunts house and drank a toast of vodka to Khokh Tenger (The Eternal Blue heaven) for the success of the tour. The workshop (Friday evening 21st- Sunday 23rd June 2002) was a great success with Tserendaava giving individual tuition for most of the afternoon. He was invited by Don Conreaux to give a blessing to the Starhenge that he was creating in the grounds. Everyone who attended to course came away enriched and with the tools to practice.
The first concerts were in London (June 26th & 27th 2002) with two sold out evenings at the beautiful St Pancras Old Church where the photographs on this page were taken. The concerts were totally acoustic and were warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic audience. A film and audio recording were made of the concert, which hopefully will be available in the near future.
June 29th/30th were the London workshops at The SOAS Department of Music. Again these were a great success. Tserendaava’s work rate and enthusiasm for teaching almost surpassed his need to have a smoke!
The rest of the tour was a great success with a radio session for BBC world routes, library recordings with Extreme Music, concerts and workshops in Dublin, Paris, The Airvault Festival, Edinburgh and finally the Hebridean Celtic Music Festival!
For more information regarding Tserendaava and news of his return please email