The Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East) International Music Festival was first held in Samarkand in 1997. Since then, the festival has been held every two years, inviting performers and musical groups from all over the world. The aims of the music forum include preserving and developing the best examples of national musical art and presenting them to an international audience, educating young people in the spirit of national traditions and establishing international links between creative collectives and musicians from different countries.
The Sharq Taronalari Festival has been held in the following years:
2022 (the Sharq Taronalari Festival planned for 2021 has been postponed to 2022).
The festival is organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Sport of Uzbekistan, the National Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek Composers Association and the Hokimiyat of the Samarkand Region. The competition receives regular support from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The number of countries participating in the festival increases from year to year: while representatives from 31 countries took part in the first festival in 1997, there were already representatives from 50 countries in 2009.
The music festival takes place in Samarkand on Registan Square, the city’s main attraction. Surrounded on three sides by three magnificent madrassas – Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tillya Qari – the square is the setting for a colourful sound and light show that presents the history of Samarkand from ancient times to the present. The show traces the major milestones and eras of life in Samarkand: from the first records of human settlement in the region, the site of Afrosiab, through the Mongol invasion to Samarkand’s Golden Age under Amir Timur, known in the West as Tamerlane. During this period, Samarkand became the largest city on the Great Silk Road, where culture and crafts flourished and architects left behind magnificent examples of medieval architecture.
Samarkand is definitely a first-class city that everyone visiting Uzbekistan and Central Asia should visit – to be in the region and not visit Samarkand would be a regrettable and unforgivable mistake. Samarkand has a large number of historical monuments, including Registan Square, the Bibi Khanum Mosque, the Shah i Zinda Mausoleum Complex, the Ulugbek Observatory, the Haji Daniyar Mausoleum and finally the Gur Emir Mausoleum, where the mortal remains of Tamerlane rest. All these sites are as interesting for history buffs, lovers of medieval culture, architecture and handicrafts as they are for ordinary tourists who may remember the immersion in the atmosphere of the medieval East for a lifetime.
Over the years, various entertainment events have enriched the programme of this great musical spectacle, including exhibitions and fairs of local handicrafts such as costumes, musical instruments and household items. There are also art exhibitions, performances and concerts. The week-long festival concludes with a colourful gala concert and fireworks.
As the festival is traditionally held in late summer or early autumn, it coincides with the peak of the tourist season. This is the best time to visit the Central Asian region, when the hot summer temperatures return to normal, fruit and vegetables abound in the markets and tens of thousands of tourists flock from all over the world to combine a historical and cultural tour of Uzbekistan with a spectacular music show.