Alash takes its name from the Alash River, which runs through the musicians' native region of Tuva. The ensemble members are graduates of the Kyzyl Arts College and students of Kongar-ool Ondar, the master throat singer and former member of the Tuvan parliament who is featured in the movie Genghis Blues. In 1999 they formed the ensemble that evolved into Alash, and Kongar-ool Ondar became the artistic director. The muscians have all been trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, but they also know and love western music. They add non-traditional instruments such as guitar, and they draw upon their knowledge of western harmonies and song forms to expand their musical possibilities.