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Pivotal occasion

A triumphant homecoming in Kazakhstan, by HOWARD SMITH


When violin virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan on the eve of his 40th birthday concert he was greeted with a near frenzy of adulation by TV, press, and admirers alike. An earlier attempt at such a concert was canned. In the event the first date clashed with a visit by the Pope. However last month (11 May 2002), the long planning finally came to fruition.

Bisengaliev is no stranger to Kazakh home audiences. Nonetheless, on this occasion more than ever before, his performance proved as much a celebration as a conventional concert.

Kazakhstan mountains - just outside Almaty - highest peak around 15,000ft/5,000m. Photo: Howard Smith

The violinist and seventy-strong Royal Philharmonic Orchestra left London Stansted headed for Almaty aboard an ageing Kazakhstan Airlines Tupelov 154; a non-stop flight beyond the Caspian Sea, through the Central Asian night to the shadow of Tien Shan Mountains.

Aruhan Bisengaliev  - Marat's mum - with her samovar (top left); making and selling bread - beside the road to China; a country dacha; villagers' transport - among the dachas. Photos: Howard Smith


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Copyright © 23 June 2002 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand





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