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photo courtesy REDCAT

March 24, 2014

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REDCAT’s OpERATiC KAzAKh ATTACK

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A Post-Punk Glam Opera About Environmental Devastation Comes Downtown. But It’s Lighthearted, Too

mally began playing in 2010 and has appeared By Donna Evans in some unexpected locations. In addition to othing about Timur and the Dime Mutouring around the country and opening for acts seum sounds ordinary. Not the name, such as the Tiger Lilies and Prince Poppycock, the which they conjured after a random Google Not the genre, which its members group has played the Central Library as part of BILE MOsearch. 678* to 55 OVIE” And NMopera. B “post-punk CLUas Text DTglam describe certainly the Aloud series and appeared on “America’s Got Talent.” not the lead singer’s laugh, a protracted series Text DTNMOVIE 55678oneto JoinREDCAT Our Movie Club Executive Director Mark Murphy has of hearty, decibel-building bursts.to It sounds, been following Bekbosunov’s artistic progress imagines, like an otter in a net. to Win Movie andtrapped be Entered Tickets! *Carrier msg &performance, data rates apply. Reply HELP for to quit. 4 msgs/month max. since he was a student at Cal Arts. Several years Even the upcoming Collapse, is help. STOP ago, he tapped the band to perform one of Coroff the beaten sonic and visual path. Part conral’s pieces at REDCAT’s New Original Works Fescert, part video and part opera, it is built around a five-member ensemble fronted by Kazakhstan- tival. Zoophilic Follies is a puppet opera about a mythological Greek inventor. born Timur Bekbosunov’s haunting voice. The After Murphy asked the band to play the venalternative indie sounds comprise an operatic reue’s fundraising gala last March, he started to quiem and are peppered with video projections discuss a project Bekbosunov and company had that highlight global struggles. The show runs been working on — Collapse. He felt it offered an Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29, at REDCAT. opportunity to merge disciplines, which is central Composed by the band’s music director Daniel to REDCAT’s mission. Corral, Collapse is a dark, satirical look at environ“I’m really so impressed with Daniel’s vision as mental problems that have haunted Corral into a composer and songwriter, and Timur’s imagicreative action. The Alaska native said he was E-NEWS s.com ntown at Dow upthe UP Signby SIGN inspired nation and theatrical talents,” he said. “Collapse largely impacts ofNew climate change has all the elements of high opera with elehe’s seen in his home state, where he believes the equilibrium between conservation Sign Up progress for Ourand E-News Blasts ments & of a twisted cabaret and rock and roll.” Searching for a Name is more apparent than in a city like Los Angeles. Be Entered to Win Movie Tickets! As unlikely as it sounds, Timur and the Dime “It can be difficult to talk about global warmMuseum’s moniker really did come from Google. ing in an impressive and profound way without Bekbosunov recalls that the band members it becoming cheesy or spent,” Bekbosunov said. typed words into the search engine that they felt “But Daniel has found a way of speaking about described them: vaudevillian, punk, goth and fanthese human and global catastrophes in a clean, tasy. Eventually the combination produced “dime interesting and sardonic way.” museum” in the results field. The band met in 2007 while its members were From there, Bekbosunov figured with a students at Cal Arts in Valencia. The group for-

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Timur and the Dime Museum, fronted by Kazakhstan-born Timur Bekbosunov, comes to REDCAT this week with Collapse, a piece that is part opera, part twisted cabaret and part video production.

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laugh, “Maybe I should put my name in front.” Bekbosunov describes the ensemble’s sound as “indie rock meets post punk with a bit of Playing/Starts Mar 14 opera” and points toNow Björk and David Bowie as musical influences. In addition to the oddity of performing an operatic requiem, Collapse is unorthodox in that its classical composer is not as rigid as many of his contemporaries. Bekbosunov, 29, said Corral is very forgiving with his songs, and allows the tenor to sing them in a way the writer had not intended. “He can be stubborn at times, but Daniel allows me to interpret them in my own way. That’s where the magic is really born,” he said. Bekbosunov was born in Kazakhstan, a part of the former Soviet Union that Moscow used as a testing ground for nuclear weapons in the 20th century. This led to serious environmental problems in the country, and a heightened awareness by Bekbosunov on the importance of protecting the planet.Starts March 21 “I definitely think of those tests and terrible moments when I sing about the radiation,” he said. “I also very often contemplate about Kazakhstan protecting its vast land and resources from too much exploration. It has a lot of beautiful national parks, protected natural zones, and of course, many interests wishing to exploit them. So, performing and interpreting songs of requiem certainly has that particular tint.” Despite the ecological atrocities his country has undergone, that wasn’t what brought him to the United States as a 16-year old. It was capitalism, via his father.

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Bekbosunov’s dad, back in the 1960s, wanted so fervently to visit the U.S. that he wrote Nikita Khrushchev a letter asking to be sent to America “so he could see what all this capitalism is about and straighten them all out,” the tenor said, guffawing. Of course, Khrushchev didn’t reply, but when a young Timur showed an interest in learning English, his dad sent him to Kansas as part of a foreign exchange program. Bekbosunov studied journalism at Wichita State University (he had dabbled in reporting for a radio station back in Kazakhstan). He liked writing and singing, and was later accepted to the New England Conservancy of Music. From there, Bekbosunov relocated to Los Angeles and attended Cal Arts, where he graduated with an MFA in voice performance and, perhaps more importantly, a friendship with the budding Dime Museum. Still, his parents worried about his musical path. “They always told me this is not the right career. They said I should go into something more stable, like journalism.” The line sparked Bekbosunov’s loudest bout of laughter yet, one so riotous it begged to be explained. “It’s a Kazak laugh,’ he said. Then he added, “It’s an opera laugh.” Collapse plays March 27-29 at REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., (213) 237-2800 or redcat.org. Shows start at 8:30 p.m. donna@downtownnews.com

03-24-14  

Los Angeles Downtown News is a free weekly newspaper distributed in and around downtown Los Angeles.

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