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Together in chorus

Updated: 2021-10-08 09:43 ( China Daily )
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Students and teachers from Guizhou Minzu University introduce the Grand Song of the Dong people to children at a primary school in Guiyang, Guizhou province. QU HONGLUN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

"For example, the chirping of cicadas is a constant backdrop in the Kam area, and the imitation of cicadas can be found in many songs. In During Daytime, I Go up the Mountain, a young woman hears the sound of cicadas; to her ears, it sounds like weeping. She sighs at the memory of an old lover," according to Mu, an editor at the nonprofit organization Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale in New York.

During their stop at the University of Michigan, "the group performed a full concert, but we also held workshops. We did this wherever conditions allowed, as workshops seemed the best way to introduce the natural and human environment of the Kam region and to teach the audience to sing", he says.

"By working close up, we could give people a deeper understanding of this musical culture so different from their own."

Wu says: "The face-to-face interaction and cultural exchange proved to be very important. These are all very valuable experiences for me, helping to increase understanding of treasured aspects of our traditions."

In the Sanjiang Dong autonomous county of Liuzhou in the neighboring Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, more efforts are also being made to preserve and promote the ethnic group's song heritage.

In late April, President Xi Jinping visited the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi in the regional capital, Nanning.

Guangxi is a national demonstration area for ethnic unity, and the region should continue to give play to its exemplary and leading role, said Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

To that effect, Sanjiang resident Wu Chunyue, another Grand Song lead singer, regularly practices with at least six team members and runs workshops to nurture young singers.

"The songs are a collective effort, and the more people sing them, the better they sound," says Wu Chunyue, 40.

"We've known it all our lives and feel a deep responsibility to pass it on to future generations."

Long Xiaoqin, deputy head of Sanjiang's publicity department, says: "Our government attaches great importance to the Dong Grand Song. We believe this is what makes the Dong people special."

She adds that the songs complement the rich culture and pristine environment of the county, which draw millions of tourists every year.

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