With her velvet voice and natural grace, she was meant to become an opera singer but turned instead to the old tradition of shashmâquam, the typical songs from Uzbekistan. She found inspiration in Sufi texts that matched harmoniously with the string and percussion instruments of her native country. This is how she was announced in the media and somehow I felt I needed to see and hear her on stage (Bozar, Brussels, Sept 2009). This turned out to be quite a revelation, I can assure you!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand a word of what she was singing, so it was all pure emotion that came to me. The first three songs were adaptations from folk songs, but then the sound and expression took an entirely different turn. At times, the tunes reminded me of some Chinese songs; in other parts, the melodies reflected the emptiness of the steppe where the notes were suspended in the thin desert air.
Monajat Yulchieva has a fine appearance, someone you do justice by calling her a lady. Utterly gracious and although no longer in her youngest years, you’ll easily qualify her as very handsome. It was almost evident that my thoughts went to the women Alexander would have met on his journey through that part of Asia, and in particular to Roxane. If she was as beautiful as some ancient writers pretend, she might have looked something like Monajat in her teens. Why not?
Unfortunately, no image of Roxane has come to us and the only way I can visualize her is through Oliver Stone’s movie Alexander but that is as remote as Pietro Antonio Rotari’s painting that was shown recently at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam (see: Immortal Alexander the Great). So I feel entitled to having my own image of Roxane.
Those who are truly interested in sharing this very special musical experience can watch Monajat Yulchieva on video here. Let me know if I’m right, yes?