Kambarkan Folk Ensemble / Камбаркан фольклордук ансамбл

Kambarkan Folk Ensemble

Published: January 3, 2023

The Kambarkan Folk Ensemble (Камбаркан фольклордук ансамбл) represents a milestone in the cultivation of Kyrgyz national identity. Originally founded in 1987 by artist and musician Chalagyz Isabayev, the ensemble aimed to preserve, appreciate, and explore Kyrgyz folk music. Isabayev, born 1937 in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul Region, was an honored artist of the Kyrgyz Republic. Although he passed away in 1991 at just 51 years old, his artistic legacy lives on.

Kambarkan was founded under glasnost, which permitted a loosening of state censorship and new communication with the west. This allowed ethnic minorities to begin reclaiming cultural practices that had been considered subversive under the USSR.

TheKambarkan Ensemble focuses on traditional Kyrgyz folk instruments, namely the komuz (a three-stringed lute that is traditionally plucked) and the kyl kyyak (a two-stringed bowed instrument). Also often featured are the timur komuz (jaw harp), tsuur (a type of flute), and jigatch (wooden jaw harp).

Salamat Sadikova has been a long-running member of the group and is known affectionately as “the voice of Kyrgyzstan”. Salamat Sadikova was born in 1956 in the Batken Oblast of southern Kyrgyzstan. In this culturally conservative region, Sadikova had to overcome opposition as she broke gender roles to pursue a career in music. Sadikova performed as a soloist with the ensemble, and her talent helped Kambarkan become known on the world stage and secure Sadikova a place as a national treasure.

The ensemble’s makeup has shifted throughout its existence, but has also featured such renowned musicians as B. Shakirov, A. Kumenov, A. Sharshebayev, S. Adrakaev, Sh. Rysaliyev, S. Kendirbayev, and G. Karabayeva.

The ensemble has received international acclaim and has performed extensively around Central Asia and the world. Some of these acclaimed performances included the 2012 performance at the Qatar Central Asia Cultural Festival and the 2013 Muscat International Folklore Festival of Folk Art, sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman.

Visit the official Kambarkan website: http://www.kambarkan.kg

“Mukash Borbiev Tan bulbulu” (The Morning Lark)
From the 1998 “A Musical Voyage along the Silk Road” concert series. Video provided by the Japanese Min-On concert association and the Kyrgyz embassy in Japan.

“Sary-Ozuk” (Сары өзөк)
From the 1998 “A Musical Voyage along the Silk Road” concert series. Video provided by the Japanese Min-On concert association and the Kyrgiz embassy in Japan.

“Ay Naru” (Moonlight) Sung by Salamat Sadikova

From Salimat Sadikova’s collection, “The Voice of Kyrgyzstan”

About the author

Elizabeth Crim

Elizabeth Crim, at the time she wrote for this site, was a Bachelors and Accelerated Master's student at the University of Colorado Boulder. She studied Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, and art history, in the hopes to one day work as a museum curator focusing on the Eastern European Avante-Garde. Her family is ethnically Ukrainian.

Program attended: Online Internships

View all posts by: Elizabeth Crim