Arts and Entertainment

Tuvan throat-singers come to Bainbridge

Renowned Chirgilchin throat-singers come to Tuva from Bainbridge for a performance of traditional songs sung in overtone. - Courtesy photo
Renowned Chirgilchin throat-singers come to Tuva from Bainbridge for a performance of traditional songs sung in overtone.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The print medium is a hard place to convey something that, by all accounts, must be heard to be believed.

But hey, it’s what we do.

With music in a state of Auto-Tunopia, where femme pop commodities sing about their credit card statements and a guy like Tim Urban can survive to the finals of “American Idol,” the Chirgilchin master throat-singers of Tuva are certainly something else.

The Chirgilchin singers, from the small Russian province of Tuva, found just north of Western Mongolia, are billed as the best throat-singers of their region — and considering that what they do is nearly unheard of, it’s a safe bet they’re the best at it in the world.

That’s not to say Chirgilchin is on top by default; these singers, who also play handmade traditional instruments, have toured the planet with their mesmeric sound, a vocal phenomenon by which each singer produces simultaneous harmonized voices. They’ll play the Bainbridge Island Center Hall at 7 p.m. Friday, April 30.

Tuvan throat-singing is a type of overtone singing, in which a singer produces multiple pitches, often creating a very otherworldly, entrancing sound. The sounds are made with a low resonation in the throat, paired with higher, flute-like harmonies. Throat-singing became especially popular in Tuva, where an open landscape allows sounds to carry unusually far.

Chirgilchin sings ancient folk songs in the Tuvan language, and uses the layered, ethereal tones to reflect the terrene steppes of central Asia. Learn more about the group at

The Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District will host the show. Advance tickets are available at Winslow Drug and the Park District Office, or at (206) 842-2306, ext. 21. Advance adult tickets are $16; they are $20 at the door. Students are in for $10. The Island Center Hall is located at 8395 Fletcher Bay Road.

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