Murager was supported by an array of curriculum materials, a yearly teacher training seminar and the ongoing production of high-quality musical instruments for use by students engaged in the programme. The target audience for Murager was not future professional musicians but future audience members, based on the idea that music and art can only flourish in a society that understands and values them.
By 2014, Murager operated in some 70 secondary schools throughout Kazakhstan, and had produced curriculum materials extending from first to 11th grades. More than 10,000 students nationwide had enrolled in a Murager class. In 2013, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education approved Murager as an official alternative music curriculum for the fourth grade, marking the beginning of the Ministry’s phased assumption of responsibility for the production of textbooks, curriculum materials and teacher training courses.
Other Educational Support
AKMP supports the Department of Epic Singing at Kyzyl-Orda University. This is directed by Almas Almatov, an esteemed epic singer who has actively collected oral poetry from living reciters to create a digital archive of Kazakh epics. AKMP also supports Bidas Rustembekov, one of Kazakhstan’s leading epic reciters, who transmits his musical art to students in both Kyzyl-Orda and Almaty.
In 2018, the Aga Khan Music Programme premiered Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls), a multimedia reinterpretation of an ancient Central Asian epic. Its music director was Kazakh master qobyz player Raushan Orazbay, an instructor of qobyz at University of Arts in Nur-Sultan. Other performers from Kazakhstan included students and graduates of Almaty Conservatory and the University of Arts, both of which have maintained long-term relationships with AKMP. Qyrq Qyz toured in the USA and was presented in prestigious venues in France, Germany and Uzbekistan.
Publication and Recording
Kazakh music has been well represented in other AKMP projects. These include Music of Central Asia, a 10-volume CD-DVD anthology released worldwide by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Volume 4 of the anthology, entitled Bardic Divas: Women’s Voices in Central Asia (2007), features Kazakh vocalists Ulzhan Baibussynova and Ardak Issataeva, and dombyra player Aigul Ulkenbaeva. The Music of Central Asia was published by Indiana University Press (2016) and is used as a textbook in a number of leading American universities. It was co-edited by Kazakh ethnomusicologist Saida Daukeeva, who also contributed several chapters, along with Kazakh music scholars Alma Kunanbay and Jangül Qojakhmetova.