Obituary, Kongar-ol Ondar

(KYZYL, THE NEW YORK TIMES) Kongar-ol Ondar, an internationally renowned master of Tuvan throat singing, the Central Asian vocal art died on July 25 in Kyzyl, Tuva’s capital due to complications after emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage. He was 51.

Mr. Ondar was a superstar in Tuva, the land of Forests, mountains, and steppe lies in Southern Siberia — “like John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Michael Jordan kind of rolled into one,” in the words of “Genghis Blues” (1999), an Oscar-nominated documentary about throat singing in which he figures prominently. Known for his captivating stage presence, he was nicknamed “the Groovin’ Tuvan” by the Western musicians with whom he played (see “Vox de Cultura – Asian Frequencies”).

On the film’s soundtrack album, released in 2000, the two men meld their diverse music traditions. Over the years, Mr. Ondar also performed or recorded with Frank Zappa, the Kronos Quartet, Willie Nelson, Mickey Hart and the banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. At the same time, through his recording, performance and teaching of classic Tuvan throat singing — also called overtone singing, he helped revitalize a tradition that had been largely extinguished during the Soviet era.

One of America’s Music Hometowns Files for Bankruptcy

(DETROIT, TIME, LTTW) The city of Detroit, known for its rich musical heritage from infamous Motown record label, to the home of Techno in the ’80s and some of Hip-Hop’s most celebrated acts, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, July 25th 2013. The move not only marks the largest municipal-bankruptcy proceeding in U.S. history in terms of debt and population, but also culminates the fall of an iconic American metropolis.

So, how did it get to this point?

The media gets some parts of the story right: a population in decline, tax revenue dropped, high crime rates, vacant neighborhoods, and an estimated $17 billion in long-term debts and a $327 million annual budget deficit. However, the filing may be the Motor City’s best hope to mend its broken finances, and consequently, Detroit will face months, and perhaps years of complicated legal proceedings.

But what most news is missing is the creative and supportive spirit of the community. Entire blocks of vacant land are transforming into community gardens, sculpture gardens, even biergartens.

Abandoned factories have been converted into artists studios, with cheap rent luring creative types from all over the country. Dozens of volunteer organizations are committed to making better schools and safer streets. Across the board, crime rates in Detroit are reported lower than in decades past.

There’s of course the music scene. We mustn’t forget that this was also the home of Motown, Techno as well as an epicenter for Rock and Roll. From Aretha Franklin to Diana Ross, Juan Atkins to Richie Hawtin, and Stevie Wonder to Jack and Meg White, Detroit’s musical influence can still be heard in the charts today. The city may be going through bankruptcy, but many organizers say there will be little effect on the upcoming music and cultural events, from the Detroit Jazz Festival, S’mittenfest, to Thanksgiving Parade in November.

This was hardly a scene we’d expect just two days following the announcement that Detroit had become the largest American city to ever file for bankruptcy protection. After all, this is Detroit, a giant made of people’s spirit. So, it is only a matter of time to put Detroit back on its feet, and start to dance again. (AA)