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Miao and Dong songs in limelight at unique choral festival

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-15 08:00

Choirs from more than 20 countries and regions take part in the international choral festival in Kaili, Guizhou province. Singers from the Miao ethnic group (left) and Kentucky Harmony from the United States perform at the festival. [Photo by Xing Wen/China Daily]

"I am from a part of America that is in the mountains and in the middle of the country. There is a very old mountain tradition. We have a similar history like the Miao and Dong (groups)," she says of the shared tradition of teaching songs from generation to generation.

With a history of more than 2,000 years, the "grand song" of the Dong people was derived from the sounds of nature, such as the chirping of birds or the flowing of rivers.

The song that eulogizes nature, labor and love was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2009.

"We Dong girls start to learn the chorus from around 5 years of age. People from different villages gather under the drum tower (a building) and practice singing after working in the fields. The chorus also bonds us," says Qiu Xian, a local choir member.

Fan Ying, 50, a music lover from North China's Shanxi province, who was at the festival, says: "It was amazing to see the spectacular Dong chorus live. And the wonderful performances of foreign singers also broadened my horizon."

Many local choirs debuted at the festival.

Gan Wenhua, a singer from the Majiang County Choir, says his group had been gearing up for a performance by practicing more than five hours a day for the past month.

Sergio Quiroz, a singer from Mexico, says: "I was touched by the local voices. I hope our singing made them feel the same way."

The festival was held at the Kaili Cultural Palace of Nationalities.

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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