Friday last was my birthday. Alas, Thomo did not get any birthday celebrations. However, the Bank had their quarterly regional meeting so whilst Thomo was unhappy at being “alone” on his birthday, it was compensated for by being with the work compatriots. As it was the last day of the regional meeting, we went to a tourist ger camp on the edge of Ulaanbaatar – out past the airport. It was the Buyant Ukhaa tourist camp and is constructed mostly out of concrete and other modern materials. The gers are made to look like traditional gers from the outside but inside there is access to en suite toilet and bathroom (no self respecting nomad would have this of course), cable TV, refrigerator (mini bar) and so on.
The area the gers are in is quite nice and it is reachable in about 30 minutes from Ulaanbaatar city centre. It is a protected area so the hills around the gers are in pristine condition.
That was not what I was talking about though. As part of the entertainment for the evening, one of the better Morin khuur players in Mongolia, Tserendorj, was there, along with his son, Soyol-Erdene (er, Tserendorj’s wife also works for the bank hence the connection). Tserendorj had prepared a Morin khuur and on stage played it briefly. It was then presented to Pete Morrow, CEO of the bank (Google him up – use the terms ‘ “Pete Morrow” Mongolia’ and you can see some of his writings. Of course, if you are really lazy, follow this link and the Google Search results will appear).
Again, this is not what I was talking about though. After the Morin Khuur was presented to Pete, Soyol-Erdene played on another Morin khuur. This is the first time I have heard this instrument played live and with it playing a lively piece. The sound that issues from it is magnificent and unique. It really is a wonderful instrument and when in the hands of an expert, as it was, the instrument lives, as does the music he plays.
The Morin khuur itself is a wooden violin type instrument with a horse head carved and added to the top of it.
Now to find a CD or two to add to my collection. Well worth listening to.