Velimir Khlebnikov: Children of the Otter

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Contemporary Russian composer Vladimir Martynov discusses his suite, Children of the Otter, which incorporates Tuvan music and throat-singing, and is based upon the “supersaga” of the same title (also translated as “Otter’s Children”) by the early 20th-century Russian futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov. The interview was conducted shortly before the premiere of the work in the city of Perm, near the Ural mountains, last September. The Vimeo page describes the background of the piece in considerable detail.

The story of “Children of the Otter” began in the summer of 2008 when producers Vladimir Oboronko and Alexander Cheparukhin, long-time friends and GreenWave Music partners, approached a renowned Russian contemporary composer Vladimir Martynov.

The idea was very simple: create a composition that would blend ancient sound of Tuvan folk music with the sound of contemporary chamber orchestra.

The Tuvan side of the music would be represented by Huun Huur Tu, the foremost Tuvan band, with which Cheparukhin had been working since the early 1990s and Oboronko joined him in 2005. The contemporary side of the music would be represented by Vladimir Martynov’s composing and Moscow chamber orchestra Opus Posth’s performing.

Vladimir Martynov agreed to work on the project during the first meeting. He knew Huun Huur Tu’s music, saw them live, and was excited about using contemporary composing techniques to blend the ancient Tuvan sound with avant-garde sensibilities of Opus Posth.

He wrote a composition for Huun Huur Tu, Opus Posth, and choir, and also incorporated poetry of Velimir Khlebnikov, famous Russian futurist poet of early 20th century. The composition was named “Children of the Otter” after the name of one of Khlebnikov’s poems.

Excerpts from the 75-minute composition. Again, see the video description for full details. A DVD of the performance is slated for release this month.

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