WHO: Thomas A. Blomster, Composer/Conductor
WHAT: World Premiere of Postcards To Mongolia by Thomas A. Blomster, conducting the performance by the Morin Khuur Ensemble as part of “Beautiful Mongolia”, Naadam Festival.
Colorado composer and conductor Thomas A. Blomster is the first Western composer and conductor to work with the Morin Khuur Ensemble, the traditional Mongolian instrument ensemble that is part of the Mongolian Philharmonic. His composition Postcards To Mongolia will be performed as part of the Naadam Festival, Mongolia’s largest and most important annual festival. The Naadam festival is the Mongolian version of the Olympics, with sporting events of wrestling, archery, and horse racing that are traditions of Mongolia’s historic culture. In addition to the athletic events, there are numerous musical and artistic events during the three day festival.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 7:00 PM
WHERE: Opera House, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
CONTACT: Thomas A. Blomster, Music Director, Colorado Chamber Orchestra/Douglas County Youth Orchestra
The story about Mongolia and me: I inherited from my father a curiosity about the world. So sometimes late at night, I cruise the internet, to see if there are orchestras in “far flung” places around the world. Thus I friended the Mongolian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) on Facebook. Shortly thereafter, Erdene-Oyun Burgedee of the MPO friended me. Last fall, Erdene visited Denver, and we became good friends as I helped her navigate Denver and its arts scene. Erdene (her nick name is Oko) shared a DVD and booklet on the Morin Khuur Ensemble (MKE), the traditional Mongolian orchestra that is part of the MPO. I was most intrigued and wrote a composition titled Postcards To Mongolia for the MKE. Oko submitted Postcards to the director of the MKE, and my composition is being premiered, with me conducting, during the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capitol and largest city, on July 11, 2017. We are hoping to stream the performance live. My wife Nikki and I will be in Ulaanbaatar for almost two weeks and I will be working and collaborating with Mongolian musicians, including jazz musicians and percussionists.
This is a bucket list or once in a lifetime trip for Nikki and me. I’ve wanted to visit Mongolia for a long time, but that’s a more involved story.
The link below is an electronic realization of my composition.
Official letter from the Mongolian Philharmonic Orchestra:
Nikki and I just returned from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where I was the first foreign composer and conductor to work with the Morin Khuur Ensemble, the traditional folk orchestra that is a branch of the Mongolian Philharmonic. A series of rehearsals culminated with the performance of my composition “Postcards To Mongolia” as part of “Beautiful Mongolia”, a concert by the Morin Khuur Ensemble during the Naadam Festival. The Morin Khuur Ensemble is one of the best orchestras I have ever worked with or listened to. The sense of ensemble, precision, and especially phenomenal intonation are of the highest level, comparable to any of the great ensembles in the world. It was a challenge for both the ensemble and myself to find common ground as our two very different cultures learned to work together, not to speak of the language barrier. Ultimately the music became our common ground, the universal language. The MKE performed my composition with complete authority and understanding, and I like to think that while I challenged their norms, my composition also showed some understanding of the Mongolian culture. The Music Director of the MKE told me the music evoked the Mongolian landscape for him. As I told Westword Magazine before the trip, I went with an open mind and no preset expectations. The reception of the Mongolia people and the degree of cultural exchange exceeded anything I could even dream of. As one Mongolian arts administrator commented: “Your Postcards To Mongolia? We got it!”
Unexpected highlights of our trip:
In a time of fractured relations and rising international tensions, we are proud as Coloradoans and Americans to have used the international language of music to promote a cultural exchange with one of the most remote corners of the globe, Mongolia.
We appreciate the help and support of the following people:
Ms. Britt Glassburn, Denver
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Cooper and Mary Carter, Highlands Ranch
Scott ‘Gusty’ Christensen, sonic and audio wizard, Englewood
Mongolian Philharmonic, especially the Morin Khuur Ensemble, Erdene-Oyun Burgedee, Assistant Director
City of Ulaanbaatar (Beautiful Mongolia Concert), Sergelen Bold, Advisor
American Embassy, Ariel Wyckoff, Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Below is a link to the performance.
Thomas Blomster and Nikki Tsuchiya