No eagle hunting, but a private concert by the members of Kut (August 18, 2011)

By Kara Van Malssen

We had been invited to a Yurt Camp on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan before leaving on our trip.  At that time, we estimated our arrival to be around August 15.  The Yurt Camp regularly holds events and performances by musicians from around the region and the world.  Upon our arrival on the 18th of August, we found out that we had missed a performance by a master musician from Kazakhstan, which had been arranged just for us on the 15th. We were devastated.

Regardless, we enjoyed a wonderful stay at the Yurt Camp, with its delicious vegetarian meals, peaceful surroundings, and friendly people.  A tai chi master was there conducting a workshop, and we watched their graceful movements as the sun set over the lake.  The evenings there are quiet and relaxing.  It was a much needed rest stop.



The next morning we set out determined to find an eagle hunter. The region is famous for its expert eagle trainers who take the birds into the high desert to hunt marmot and other small mammals. There was an eagle hunter festival coming up in about a week. We figured there had to be a few bird men around.

The Lonely Planet Central Asia noted that a famous eagle hunter lived on the lake, and pointed us to a small town just off the main road. After driving around for what felt like hours, asking everyone we came across in the tiny town if they knew where the eagle hunter lived and having no luck, we were about to leave. Finally, someone pointed us to the end of a street where the eagle hunter did in fact live. His wife was home, but unfortunately the man and the eagle were out with a group of tourists and wouldn’t be back for several hours. She introduced us to a baby eagle he was training. The “baby” was already huge, about the size of a 4-year-old child.


Before we could become too overwhelmed with disappointment at having missed out once again, we were informed that a family of musicians lived next door, and asked if we would like to meet them. The head of the household was teaching music at the local school, but he would come home to tell us about Kyrgyz music and maybe play us a few songs. Why, yes, we would love to!

We were invited into the comfortable home of the family band Kut. Everyone in the family is also in the band: father, mother, three sons and a daughter-in-law. We were fortunate that day to have met all but one son, who is in demand worldwide, and was off performing. Akylbek Serkebaev, the father and master of several instruments, performed for us for over an hour, bringing in his middle son Adilet Serkebaev for a few songs, and his wife Anara Serkebaeva. His daughter-in-law also gave a magnificent solo performance on the komuz, a national symbol of the country, which they all play expertly. Their songs are those of traditional Kyrgyzstan and its nomadic people.


Here’s a video of couple of songs they played for us on the komuz. The first, Song for a Young Girl like a Flower, was performed by Akylbek Serkebaev. In the second he is accompanied by his son for an acrobatic feat of coordinated string playing (look how excited the youngest son is when he finds out they are going to play this one, letting out a “yesssssss”). Watch:

Song for a Young Girl Like a Flower by Kut from Kara Van Malssen on Vimeo.

Riding a Horse by Kut from Kara Van Malssen on Vimeo.

We have lots more video and more audio tracks. Check out a few on SoundCloud. And if you enjoyed watching these and want us to post more video, let us know!


  • miss dewey decimal

    that was great!  especially the riding song!  (did you guys provide the “Somebody in New York Loves Me” tee shirt?)

  • Laura

    This is amazing!  Post more videos if you have them!