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The Heiress

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Aknar SharipbaevaAknar SharipbaevaThis year the country will celebrate the 170th anniversary of Ikhlas Doukenuly, great kuishi –  kobyz player, composer and the founder of the Kazakh kobyz school. Not many of us know that his heiress, Aknar Sharipbaeva, lives in Atyrau. Aknar is his great-great-granddaughter. Like her great ancestor, Aknar is also a kobyz player and composer, the winner of many republican competitions and international festivals. She gives kobyz classes in Atyrau State University, plays in national instruments orchestra named after Dina Nurpeissova. Aknar is also the mother of many children, which is a rarity among the people who dedicate their lives to art.

WKT Reference: Ikhlas Doukenuly (1843-1916) - the founder of kobyz school. Ikhlas played a big role in development of kuis (instrumental musical compositions) for kobyz. Kobyz or kyl-kobyz is an ancient Kazakh string instrument. It has two strings made of horsehair. The resonating cavity is usually covered with goat leather. Traditionally kobyz was a sacred instrument, owned by shamans and baksy (traditional spiritual medics). According to legends, the kobyz and its music could banish evil spirits, sicknesses and death.


– Aknar, please tell about your famous ancestor.

– We had kobyz players in five generations prior to Ikhlas. But it was Ikhlas who managed to elevate the art of kobyz playing to a classical level. His talent was transferred to his son Tousipbek. We are Tousipbek’s descendants. He preserved his fathers’ kuis and relayed them to us. Tousipbek transferred the art of kobyz playing to his relative Daulet Mykhtybaev, who lived in his house for months and years and mastered the art of kobyz. Daulet taught Abdimanap Zhoumabekov, who is my teacher.
You compose songs and kuis yourself. When have you started composing?
– I started to compose songs just recently. In 2011 in Almaty I met a well-known poetess Bekemgoul Batyrbek kyzy. When she learned that I was Ikhlas’s descendant, she suggested that I should compose music to her poem “Beket Ata”. It was quite unexpected idea and I said: “How can I do that?” But she encouraged me by saying: “Music is in your blood. After all, you are Ikhlas’s descendant!”. It was Bekemgoul who pushed me towards composing music of my own.
I composed music to her poems “Beket Ata” and “Abylai Khan”. I asked the singer Aliya Moldagalieva to perform those songs. When Aliya sung “Abylai Khan” song at the international conference in Turkestan, dedicated to Abylai Khan, she was awarded with gold medal.
Aknar with her familyAknar with her familyThe representatives of the Kazakh Embassy in Germany invited us to perform this song in Frankfurt. At the first sounds of kobyz and the beautiful voice of Aliya the German audience stood up and listened to the song with admiration.  
The last year was a very fruitful one for me. I composed about 20 songs. 
– Recently you were the Competition jury member of the republican kobyz players’ contest held in Taraz city dedicated to Ikhlas. What is special about this Ikhlas Competition?  
The contest was opened with kobyz playing. I played the kobyz that belonged to my ancestor Ikhlas. In 2011, during the first competition, the event was opened by my brother. And in 2012 the honor of playing on my ancestor’s kobyz was given to me. This ancient kobyz that belonged to Ikhlas is kept in the museum of Taraz city. So, when I arrived there, I rushed to the museum and it took me three hours to tune this sacred instrument. I was escorted by the police squad when we moved this old instrument, the national treasure, to the place where competition took place.
– What are your plans for this year?
– This year our country celebrates the 170th anniversary of Ikhlas, my ancestor. I am planning to give recitals in Atyrau and Taraz. In the first part of the concert programme I will play kobyz and in the second part the singers will be singing the songs that I composed.
by Ainur Saparova
January 10 2013, 12:10

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