Nada Bayanhonger by the river
Nada playing by the Tuin River just near Bayankhongor Town, Bayankhongor province, Mongolia September 1994
When I first visited Mongolia in 1993 I managed to book my return visit the next year by receiving an invite from the Mongolian Ministry of Culture & Recreation to tour with Nada, a music group that I co-founded with Graeme Scott and Alquimia. Below is a brief report of the tour that I sent to my sponsors, the British Council, The Arts Council and The Tibet Foundation. I have added some images from the footage shot by Steve Teers of DiVa Pictures
NADA completed the most extensive musical tour of Mongolia by a British group. 17 concerts were played in the month or so of the tour. NADA travelled over 2,000km visiting 7 different aimags (provinces) performing their unique brand of cross-cultural music to the people of Mongolia. They collaborated with Mongolian musicians and made contacts with musicologists, schools, composers and theatre directors all around the country. NADA members carried out research projects in their sphere of interest. NADA were interviewed for Mongolian radio and a 40-minute program about NADA was broadcast on Mongolian national television. All in all the tour was a resounding success of cultural cooperation between Britain and Mongolia. The tour has also opened the gateway for further cultural and educational exchange between the two countries.
NADA in this reincarnation consisted of
Michael Ormiston: ‑ Tour leader, khöömii, limbe, ney, clarinet, Tibetan singing bowls, Morin Khuur, Ocarina, shawm, darabuka, voice, Khalsan Khuur, Tomur Khuur and harmonic flutes.
Graeme Scott: ‑ Darabuka, voice, keyboards and improvised piano (when one was found).
Viv Corringham: ‑ Voice (Turkish and Gospel songs), darabuka.
Sianed Jones: ‑ Voice (welsh and original melodies) and violin.
Richard Manning: ‑ Didgeridoo.
Steve Teers – Video camera, drums and flute
Mongolia map annotated jan 2023
NADA were accompanied by Steve Teers and Rebecca Shepherd of Diva film and Video productions, with Chris Johnston who was representing PAN records. Richard Manning doubled up as tour Photographer. NADA were joined on the Ulaanbaatar to Khovd leg of the tour by Gereltsogt and his wife Oyuna. Gereltsogt being  one of Mongolia’s popular Khöömii singers. Finally Javhlan joined the group as translator.
NADA arrived in Mongolia at the end of August. Ulaanbaatar was wet, miserable and had changed quite a lot since my visit last year. A greater variety of food was available in the markets (some of them new). We even managed to buy some bananas and petrol was more freely available. However the prices had risen which meant that only the more well off Mongolians could buy these products.
Susan Bright from the VSO very kindly arranged accommodation for us in Ulaanbaatar. We also had assistance from Od at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Javhlan our translator and Priscilla Allan in this department. The concert arrangements in the aimags (provinces) were finalised with Tavkhiin Baasarjav from the Ministry of Culture.
We chose to travel on the southern route via Bayanhongor and Altai as the exceptional rain for this time of the year had made it a bit dodgy to travel via Moron and Uliastai in the north. Our mode of transport was a twenty three seater coach which we hired from Natsagdorj the driver at the long distance bus depot near the circus.
Nada Rainbow concert video still montage
Nada at the Rainbow club : Click on the link to see a version of
Dreamtime Over The Steppes
Ulaanbaatar, Tov Aimag 1/9‑6/9/94
NADA played five concerts at the former youth and culture centre, now called the “Rainbow club”. They were part of a nightly package that contained a String quartet, a traditional Mongolian ensemble, NADA and a Mongolian rock band Hurd. The audience was varied and appreciated  the variety that NADA gave. It was a most bizarre venue to start our tour. The organisers asked us if we played rock/pop music? We duly said no and proceeded to play a set that consisted of some traditional Mongolian melodies sung in my slowly improving khöömii, a walk on procession song of Sianed’s, live electronics and Didgeridoo and “Wade in the water”. We added songs like Vivs arrangement of a Turkish song Esmerim and one of mine called “Between Twilights”.

Kharahorin, Ovorkhangai Aimag  9/9/94
Kharahorin is the ancient capital of Mongolia and about a days drive from Ulaanbaatar. On the way we stopped at some Guanzs  (road side café’s) and at some local Ger’s (Round white felt tents) where Gereltsogt stocked up on his supply of “Shimmy” airag (distilled fermented mare’s milk). Within the run down modern Town of Kharakhorin is Erdene Zuu, the ancient Monastic centre of Lamaist Buddhism (the temples somehow survived being destroyed in the1930’s). NADA performed at a guest lodge by the Orhonriver.
Nada Karakorum Concert Videi still Montage
NADA performed at a guest lodge by the Orhonriver.
here is a clip

H.H. The Dalai Lama in Karakorum video still montage
His Holines the Dalai Lama giving blessings and teachings at Erdene Zuu
That day his Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Kharahorin for the first time ever. NADA and the film crew had the honour and privilege of witnessing him give teachings to the Mongolian people present. They were dressed to the nines in their best Deels. There was a great commotion when His Holiness decided to give his teachings at ground level. The organisers had set up a ‘throne’ on the roof of the temple. It seemed he wanted to be at the level of the people. What a wonderful gesture.

Bayanhongor, Bayanhongor Aimag 11/9/94
NADA arrived to find the theatre closed but managed to arrange a concert at the wrestling contest that was taking place at the town’s sport hall. Some of Mongolia’s leading wrestlers were participating.
The concert went down well much to the surprise of all. Gereltsogt had performed his own khöömii at Kharahorin and we asked if he would like to perform anything with us. The song he chose was of all things “I am Sailing” which fits in with the range of Mongolian khöömii. Sianed got the arrangement together and it was premiered at the concert. I am not sure if anyone recognised it but it became one of our basic collaboration during the tour.
I sang my version of Dorvon Uul which surprised and amazed the local audience. I think this was the first time they had heard a non Mongolian sing khöömii.
Nada Bayanhonger Concert video still montage
Nada with khöömiich Gereltsogt performing in Bayanhongor. Here is a clip of Michael doing his khöömii

Nada Altai Concert video still montage
Nada in concert in the Altai town theatre
AltaiGov-Altai Aimag 13/9/94
The town of Altai is situated on the Northern extremities of the Gobi desert in the Gov Altai Aimag. This was the first time any British group had played in the theatre. The concert was advertised on local radio and with posters around the town. This enabled the local population to know about the concert which was played to a full house. 
The venue even had a small guitar amp from which we could amplify the tömör khuur (metal jews-harp) and create some live loops and samples. 
I was lent a Morin Khuur and made a very simple accompaniment for my khöömii.
Steve Teers came off the camera and played a large Buddhist drum that was backstage.
Viv and Sianed were as ever totaly on form with their voices and Sianed with her violin.
The Theatre had a piano much to the delight of Graeme Scott. The audience did not know where to turn when Graeme started his freely improvised “Cecil Tayloresq” onslaught at the piano. Some just opened their mouth in amazement with the sheer energy that Graeme put in. This was exactly what the tour was all about
There was a joyous reception with local dignitaries afterwards. 
We were all tired from the endless travelling and we had many more days of this to come.

Chandman’ sum (District) Khovd Aimag 15/9/94
Chandman’ is the home of Mongolian khöömii. Last year Michael Ormiston was given lessons in this demanding singing style by Tserendaava  one of Mongolia’s most famous khöömiich. 
We arrived at the village centre very late at night and managed to get to Tserendavaa’s village ger. He was not there and so it was thought that he must be at his country ger with his cattle etc. So off we went into the night in search of Tserendavaa’s ger. We  bumped into a number of gers’ but with all the will of everyone trying to help we could not find it. So we all went to sleep in the coach. I was woken by a didgeridoo falling on my head at dawn and then saw a most beautiful view of mist floating around the snow capped Jargalant Altai Mountains. We found the country Ail (group of gers) of Tserendavaa, but he was not there!. What had happened was his wife had given birth at the very time we arrived and she and Tserendavaa were in the village hospital!  We returned to the village and I went to the Hospital, which was  just a small bungalow style building with no electricity and gave our blessing to the newly born child.
At the concert given in the small village theatre, Tserendaava was the honoured guest. Gereltsogt who was travelling with NADA was born in Chandman’ and this was the first time he had been there for over 18 years. He gave a very emotional  performance during his part of the concert.
The boss of the  village invited NADA to a picnic the next day. A treat of boodog (goat cooked from the inside by hot rocks with the hair singed off by blow torches!) was prepared by the river (Graeme the vegetarian discretely disappeared for the afternoon) along with numerous toasts of vodka to our continued friendship.
Here is a clip of goat picnic
Nada Chandman Concert Video Still Montage
Concert in Chandman’ village Theatre

Nada Khovd Concert Video still montage
Nada in concert at Khovd Theatre
Khovd Khovd Aimag17/9/94
Khovd was a major town on the northern branch of the ancient silk-road. Now it is the capital of the aimag of the same name. 
The theatre is a grand neo classical structure built with help by the Russians. NADA played two concerts, which were both well attended. It took all day to get the electricity working (many thanks to Sengedorj the khöömiich from Khovd Theatre.
However just as the first concert was starting the power cut. NADA continued the first half of the concert in candlelight (NADA’s set was designed to be both acoustic and/or electric). Graeme Scott performed some improvised music on the grand piano that was found stored at the side of the stage. This was the first time free improvisation on a piano was heard in Khovd. (Altai was maybe the first free improvisation on a piano to be heard in Mongolia!). The audience loved his energy but were a little perplexed at the meaning of it all. 
Michael had many friends from last years visit and they sang along with his khöömii version of Buyant Gol and Dorvon Uul. 
We said goodbye to Gereltsogt as he was to stay with his family who now live in and around Khovd and to Chris Johnston who would record Sengedorj and others for his CD project with Pan records.

Olgii, Bayan Olgii Aimag19/9/94
Olgii is the capital of the Bayan‑Olgii province and is the furthest west province in Mongolia. We travelled to Oglii from Khovd with Mr Samjid, the director of the Minority theatre in Olgii. He is a Uriangkhai and puts on performances of the Uriangkhai, Tuvan and Darkhad ‘minority’ peoples. (Bayan‑Olgii is populated in the majority by Kazakhs).
On the way we stopped by a crystal clear stream reflecting turquoise from the sky and sparkling diamonds from the bright sunlight. The air was clean, the mountains of snow reached to heaven and Graeme cooked us a most delicious vegetable curry. Our drivers went to the nearest Ger to fill up with their supply of meat.
We got out our instruments and improvised inspired by the landscape around and a few Vodka toasts. Samjid started to dance his wonderful dance of moving eyes, smiling and wiggling around with abandon and precision. Steve Teers was filming all this and now Samjid is known as, “Wiggling man” to many a clubber that Steve VJ’s to around London.
The concert took place in his theatre and NADA were presented with a Urianghai Tobshuur (a traditional 2 stringed fretless trapezoidal lute) to celebrate a successful concert and the end of the countryside part of NADA’s tour.
NADA had travelled over 2,000km overland in a bus across the Mongolian steppe, the Gobi desert and the Altai mountains. They had opened their Mongolian audiences to Welsh, Turkish, Greek music, were amazed by Michael Ormiston’s renditions of Mongolian khöömii, intrigued by the didgeridoo of Richard Manning, silenced by the tones of the Tibetan singing bowls, perplexed by the free improvising piano antics of Greame Scott and were uplifted by the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the NADA group as a whole. NADA then flew back to Ulaanbaatar for the final series of concerts of the tour.
Nada Olgii concert video stills montage
Nada performing in Olgii

Nada Tumen Ekh concert video still montage
Tumen Ekh Ensemble & Nada concert Ulaanbaatar. Michael and Graeme silenced the audience with their singing bowl piece click here to see it
Ulaanbaatar 22/9‑ 30/9/94
NADA continued their series of concerts at the Rainbow Club. The president Kang Heung Lee has offered NADA to play there again anytime they are back in Mongolia. They are also interested in inviting other British groups to play at their venue. Michael Ormiston arranged concerts for a U.S musician John Stewart at the club.
They also played a special joint concert with the Tumen Ekh Music and Dance Company. It took place at the Tumen Ekh theatre. Tumen Ekh would play two pieces and then NADA two pieces and so on. The concert was a great success and Tseden‑ish Alatangerel the chief  and artistic director of Tumen Ekh expressed the wish for NADA to play again with his ensemble.
Richard Manning and Michael Ormiston played their structured improvisation “Dreamtime over the steppes” at an event at the DSNKA centre. The event was directed by one of Mongolia’s leading popular musicians Ganananisrai. There was a ballet (based on the jungle book) followed by music performed by members of the Chinggis Khahn group. They were playing covers of western pop songs! NADA’s piece utilised the didgeridoo, Mongolian khöömii, overtone singing and the Mongolian Khalsan khuur (Bamboo Jews harp). The reversal of roles was appreciated with applause each time the Mongolian sounds were introduced.

NADA’s tour of Mongolia achieved its aim and much more. It made the Mongolian people aware of the many types of different and challenging music that exists in Britain in the form of concerts, a radio interview and also a forty-minute program about NADA its tour, instruments and music. The program was shown at peak time and made small TV personalities out of the members of NADA.
Michael Ormiston, Chris Johnston and Richard Manning stayed on after the tour to continue their own projects.
Michael Ormiston obtained permission from the venerable Choijampts the Abbot of Ganden Tegchinlenmonastery in Ulaanbataar to make audio recordings of the monks chanting their prayers in the temples. He obtained about 11 hours of recording which include prayers for peace and well being, prayers for the recently dead and two Mani prayers (Mongolian Buddhist long song). He also recorded the nuns at Tugsbajasgalant Nunnery (a ger) in Ulaanbaatar as well as a Buryiat monk in Dadal sum, Hentii aimag. He has agreed to make this material available to anybody interested and to produce a tape/ CD. The profits from these will go toChoijampts to aid in the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia.
Nada MTV video stills montage
Nada on Mongolia TV, click here to see the 30 minute interview with performances

Chris Johnston was collecting recordings of Mongolian traditional music (as well as recording NADA’sconcerts) with the help of PAN records (they supplied the recording equipment). Michael Ormiston introduced all the khöömii singers he knew, Ganbold, Gereltsogt, Tsogbaatar, Tserendaava and Sengedorj and Chris recorded most of them. He also recorded Tserendorj a Domog, Magtaal and Tuul singer who also played the Morin Khuur, Khuuchir, Tobshuur and Tomur Khuur and his son. While NADA were touring Chris recorded musicians from Altai and had a wonderful time in Khovd recording the local musicians there. Finally we went to Dadal sum in Hentii aimag and made a unique recording of the Buryats who live there. Buyanhishig at Mongolian Radio provided Chris with the “complete” archive of khöömii recording that the station had made! Hopefully all those interested will be able to hear the cream of his recordings on PAN records soon. Most of them have since become available on the excellent “Jargalant Altai” CD on PAN 2050CD.
Richard Manning our didgeridoo player who was also the official NADA photographer (Contact him through me if you are interested in viewing them) initiated a project with some horse‑breeder and racing trainers. He was invited to film the preparations of horses and jockeys for next years (1995) Nadaam. He has a vested interest in the race next year as the people who invited him gave him a young horse that would compete in next years race!.
NADA’s tour of Mongolia was a great success. It achieved its fourfold plan of concerts, collaboration, education and research. Michael Ormiston led the tour and has gained a thorough knowledge of how Mongolia works from an administrative, cultural, transport and living point of view. The tour could not have happened without the support of the British Council, the Arts Council of England and the Tibet Foundation on the British side and the Ministry of Culture and the Mongolian people on the Mongolian side. NADA have finished their tour with the aim to spread the unique culture of Mongolia to Britain and other countries. They have had a unique insight to the Mongolian culture and have come away with an experience of the musical heritage, a collection of photographs, 29 hours of HI 8 video footage, audio recordings and have made contacts with the Ministry of Culture who wish them to continue this new beginning of cultural relationships with Britain and Mongolia. They hope to disseminate this material in the form of concerts, exhibitions, installations and a film of the tour. 
© Michael Ormiston NADA Director November 1994