Murat Irgaliyev, General producer, Zhas Kanat Contest

Zhas Kanat Republican Contest of Young Performers is an annual event in Kazakhstan since 1992. The music competition helps reveal new talents. Many of the competition laureates are now well-known and established artists. The project’s general producer Murat Irgaliyev about legendary competition and its history.

- Zhas Kanat Contest is an important landmark for Kazakhstan’s culture. The competition was established during the most challenging time in history, when the young country just became an independent state. Viewers watched an outstanding show. It must have far from easy organizing national scale event at that time.    

After Kazakhstan became independent, many people finally had a chance to fulfil their dreams. However, let’s start with the pre-history of Zhas Kanat. The Asia Dauysy or Asia Dauysy Music Contest was established one year prior to the establishment of  Zhas Kanat. The order on the establishment of the Asia Dauysy was signed by Nursultan Nazarbayev who served as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic at that time. He actually came to see the Voice of Asia. Famous Kazakh singers, including Roza Rymbayeva, Nagima Yeskaliyeva, the Dosmukassan band and Akzhol Meyirbekov were the contestants of the first two competitions. I remember that officials of the Ministry of Culture had previously approached me and said that they were embarrassed that the Kazakh republic cannot present their own young artists at the international scale competition. The officials of the Ministry of Culture asked me to come up with a contest and I agreed to do that. That is how the Zhas Kanat was created on April 12th 1992.      

- Zhas Kanat revealed a new generation of young Kazakh popular singers, such as Medeu Arynbayev, Yerlan Kokeyev, Urker Music Group, Nurlan Abdullin, Yashlyk Music Group, Bauyrzhan Issayev, Madina Sadvakassova and other famous performers. Also, renowned singers, such as Patricia Kaas, Toto Cutugno, Alla Pugachyova, Philipp Kirkorov, Valeriy Leontyev, Boney M. and other well-known foreign singers performed at the Asia Dauysy Contest. Thousands of people attended the show in Medeu and the tickets were sold out six months before the start of the contest. What inspired you and what makes you move forward now?      

- So, your question is what gives me strength? It is the desire to promote optimism among the public and the desire to make life happier. When I looked at the sold out Medeu, I was amazed and wanted to cry from happiness. It inspired me. At that time, I had two lives or two realities: the celebration and festivities at the Asia Dauysy contest and the search for young artists which probably became my biggest focus in life.

As far as I know, Patricia Kaas, Tamara Gverdtsiteli and Laima Vaikule are your favorite singers whom you invited to perform at the Voice of Asia. Did you have a chance to befriend them and what relations do you have with them now?  

I fell in love with their voices and these women. I set a goal to invite them to perform at the Asia Dauysy show in Medeu and I invited them. I believe it was in 1992. I found people in Russia who had contacts of Patricia Kaas. We offered her to attend the concert, but we definitely couldn’t afford paying her the money. At that time, she agreed to perform at the concert because she wanted to visit Asia and she has never been here before. After Patricia Kaas arrived here, we arranged a helicopter trip over Shymbulak and the Sharyn Canyon for our shooting and we also took her to the local bazaar.

- Why to the bazaar?

- Because she has never been to an oriental bazaar. I talked to Tamara Gverdtsiteli and told her that I love her very much. I told that the festival is well-known and I want her to perform with us. Of course, in Moscow, it is prestigious to go to Voice of Asia. She arrived with her mother and she said that she liked it so much that she wanted to stay for longer. She spent a week and stayed in a lodging house in the mountains where she had a rest.  I have met Laima Vaikule many times. We are both dog keepers. I was shy and told her: “Laima, don’t get offended but I named my dog Laima.” She laughed and said that Buinov also named his dog after her and assured me not to worry. It was nice to have a dog with the name Laima.

- So she has a good sense of humor?

- She knows that it is okay to name your dog after your loved person.

-  You said that you value talent the most. You can fall in love with a person simply because he or she is talented. What do you think talent is? Is it a gift from heaven or is it a result of hard work and perseverance?

-  Talent is a gift of God. God, nature, parents or genes, however you name it. Someone is talented in reading poems and is given natural charm. These of course, all the traits given by the God and can be called talent. God can give you talent, but to become a musical genius like Dimash Kudaibergenov, one must work hard. Dimash spoke to me about the singing project he participated in China. He had to work from dawn to dusk. He had many rehearsals from morning till night. He had multiple voice coaches. Dimash didn’t have time to sleep and if there is time for sleep it wasn’t enough to really rest and recover. It was a challenge. I’m glad that Dimash went through that. From talent through work, he is shaping himself into a genius. He is not a genius yet. He is a prince. This is just one example of how to become great when someone is a talented person.

You might have some vivid and even comedic memories which later could lead to something important. Can you tell about these memories?

One day, a bus with participants drives off from the hotel. I was notified that at 9 am we have to leave the hotel. The bus drives off and I asked “Is everything ok and has everyone left the hotel?” Dimash Kudaibergen was late and I asked “Have you been waiting for him?” to which they replied “No, of course.” I said “Right!” Then I asked myself what reason could I give so we could leave? He was sitting and crying in the front row.

- It was in 2012, wasn’t it?

- Yes, in 2012. I said: “So, I want to find out who today gave the keys from the make-up room? Well, old woman Masha came to me. I asked her “Who was the first to open the dressing room today? She replied “Yes, this tall kid with long hair sings beautifully.” Thanks to Masha, we learned that Dimash was late for the bus. Nevertheless, he could make it to the stage. He had such a sense of responsibility. He is our man. He didn’t give up. Thus, he accidentally stepped onto this stage and the fate of a person has changed. The fate of our culture has changed.