After 70+ years of Russian/Soviet holidays, Nauryz has taken hold as a big event in Kazakhstan, and in the international Kazakh/Kazakhstani communities. This poster, for the Embassy of Kazakhstan's Nauryz 2008 celebration in Washington, D.C., certainly is gorgeous. Nauryz, a spring festival with pre-Islamic roots, is also celebrated under varying names across Islamic Asia from Turkey to Kyrgystan.
Tonight in Moscow (it's probably over now, in fact), a beauty pageant/Nauryz celebration was held to select the most beautiful of all Kazakhstani students in Russia. The winner of "Moscow Spring - 2008" will be a contestant in the national "Miss Kazakhstan" pageant later on. Between competition rounds, the audience was treated to performances by no less than A-Studio, Musicola, Asylbek Ensepov and the legendary Dos Mukasan, and other stars of the KZ music scene. arba.ru
Also from arba.ru, folk-pop band Urker will give their first full-length concert in 5 years for the Nauryz 2008 celebration on Saturday night (7 pm) in Old Almaty Square. Fittingly, they'll rock the crowd with their holiday anthem Nauryz, under a massive fireworks display.
I think the Nauryz party in London has already happened, but the big event in the US is a multi-city tour by "the unique neo-traditional avant-garde band from Kazakhstan," Roksonaki, culminating in the Washington, D.C. gala on April 5. Roksonaki made a big splash at the Smithsonian Institution's 2002 "Silk Road" Folklife Festival, with Yo-Yo Ma. Though the group was formed in 1990, there's next to no additional information about them until now, aided by a group member and Central Asian scholar, Dr. Helen Faller, who coordinated the tour. Roksonaki's music is fascinating and exactly as billed -- experimental, scholarly, with contemporary influences, traditional instruments and more. Is there such a thing as Central Asian space music? Check out the Roksonaki blogs (mosaiqa.com, and Nauryz with Roksonaki), and even a MySpace page, which has several music samples. And if you're anywhere near Washington, D.C. in a couple of weekends, there's a party going on that you really shouldn't miss.
A sample Roksonaki track, from the mosaiqa.com site: