Welcome to the London Uyghur Ensemble's website !
♦ The London Uyghur Ensemble
The London Uyghur Ensemble (LUE) is a London-based group playing traditional and popular music of the Central Asian Uyghurs. Our group includes Uyghur musicians from the Uyghur homeland - East Turkistan (the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China) and from the Uyghur diaspora in Kyrgyzstan, in collaboration with professional British musicians. Our repertoire includes instrumental pieces, dance, composed and traditional songs, and the classical ‘Twelve Muqam’ suites. read more >>
The Uyghur (also spelled Uighur) is one of the Turkic ethnic groups living in the northwestern region of the present China. The official Chinese name of the region is Xinjiang (or Sinkiang) Uyghur Autonomous Region but the native Uyghurs have historically called their country or this region either Eastern Turkistan (Uyghuristan). The Uyghurs might be introduced as one of China´s less well-known though more numerous minority nationalities (compared to, say, the Tibetans or the Mongols), or alternately as the only one of the Central Asian nationalities (alongside the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen) who do not possess their own independent nation state. Culturally we might best regard the Uyghurs as a Central Asian people, although they today live mainly within the borders of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), in the large desert and mountain region in China´s far northwest currently known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Their language belongs to the Turkic language family, as do the other Central Asian languages, and is very closely related to Uzbek. As in the better-known situation in Tibet, the relationship between Uyghur nationality and the Chinese state during the nearly 60 years of rule by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has been marked by tension and sometimes violence.
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Uyghur music is closely related to the neighbouring traditions of the Central Asian states, and more broadly allied with the wider Islamic musical world. Uyghur traditional music making revolves around the mashrap (gathering or party) which draws villagers together for food, music and dancing. Weddings, circumcision parties, the major Islamic festivals and pilgrimages to saints' shrines are also important occasions for music. read more >>
♦ The story behind London's Kashgar Road
If one of London´s Uyghurs happens to be looking through London´s A to Z street map and stumbles upon the entry: Kashgar Road, it is with a shock of recognition. For London´s Uyghurs, used to the daily routine of explaining to the British who the Uyghurs are and where they come from, it is extraordinary to find that one of their major cities has lent its name to a London street. How did this come about? read more >>
♦ The Uyghur Music Industry
"The Guest" (mehman)
I invited a guest into my home
Asked him to sit in the place of honor
But my guest never left
Now he´s made my home his own ...
The storyof the exiled Uyghur singer Kuresh Kusen (deceased) was posted on the Internet in early 1999. Kuresh Kusen is a singer and recording artist who performs on the Uyghur dutar or two-stringed lute. He played numerous concerts in towns around Xinjiang during the 1980s and early 1990s, and owned a small independent theatre in Urumchi. He has released several cassettes of original solo compositions. Kuresh´s political problems began in 1994 when he released his fourth cassette. One song in particular attracted the attention of the censor. "Don´t sell your land," he sang, "it has been yours for generations. If you sell your land there will be no bright future for you." What he did not make explicit, but what was clearly understood by his Uyghur audience, was who they should not sell their land to: Han Chinese immigrants into Xinjiang. I spoke to Kuresh by phone in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 1999, and he explained to me why he had recorded this song:
"I performed in many towns across Xinjiang over the years. And everywhere I saw that the Uyghur peasants were very poor. They sell their land to the Chinese for cash. Soon they have spent all the cash, and then they are no better than slaves." read more >>