‘Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls)’ Performance, Outreach Events Focus on Central Asia


“Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls),” a reimagined tale of an ancient Central Asian epic told through music, poetry and contemporary film, will be on stage at Bowker Auditorium on Sunday, March 4 at 4 p.m.

Presented by the Fine Arts Center Asian Arts and Culture Program, “Qyrq Qyz” is a celebration of female empowerment based on the story of Gulayim, the 16-year-old daughter of a ruler of the Karakalpak people who with 40 female companions defeated an invasion by the Kalmyk Khan Surtaishi and built a society founded on peace and compassion.

A pre-show talk with musicologist and co-producer of “Qyrq Qyz” Theodore Levin will be at 3 p.m. in the auditorium.

Tickets for the event are $20-$35 and $10 for ages 17 and under. This show is free for Five College students with valid ID.

A dynamic collaboration between two of Uzbekistan’s greatest contemporary artists—filmmaker Saodat Ismailova and celebrated composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky— “Qyrq Qyz” brings to the stage some of Central Asia’s finest traditional singers and musicians.

Offering a window into the world of young women in Central Asia, the work incorporates the ambient sound from the territory of present-day Karakalpakstan, (a culturally and linguistically distinctive administrative region within Uzbekistan) with performances by seven virtuosic young female bards from the region. The songs are drawn from the traditional styles and genres of epic reciters—spoken and sung in the Turkic languages of Karakalpak, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, and played on a variety of Central Asian instruments. The projections include English super titles.

Additional outreach activities to support the performance of “Qyrq Qyz” include:

  • Thursday, March 1, 7 p.m., Herter 601.  Seminar on “Central Asia: Culture, History and Invention” with UMass Amherst faculty Audrey L. Altstadt, professor of history; Anne Broadbridge, associate professor of history; and Walter B. Denny, Distinguished Professor of History of Art and Architecture.
  • Friday, March 2, 7 p.m., S331 Integrative Learning Center. Screening of the educational film “The Eagle Huntress.”

The Fine Arts Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday.10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 413-545-2511 or 800-999-UMAS. Tickets can be purchased online anytime at: fineartscenter.com