Chinese artists bring Inner Mongolian music to Britain

Culture
With music flowing from head-horse fiddles, a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument, the neighing of thousands of horses on vast grassland in Inner Mongolia, northern China, seems just before the British audience.

XinhuaUpdated: June 8, 2018

With music flowing from head-horse fiddles, a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument, the neighing of thousands of horses on vast grassland in Inner Mongolia, northern China, seems just before the British audience.

Though the audience did not understand the words in the ethnic Mongolian folk songs, they enjoyed a performance by the Anda Union on Wednesday night in central London, half a world away from the Chinese autonomous region.

Anda, which means sworn brothers in the Mongolian language, is a musical group that formed in 2003. The group is made up of seven men and two women -- singers Qeqegma and Bilgbagatur -- and the other members who play traditional Mongolian instruments, including the the morin khuur, also known as horse-head fiddle.

The group performed old folk songs of Inner Mongolia -- their shared homeland. Their music also includes a unique style of throat singing called khoomei.

"It's amazing," said a spectator from Germany. "I enjoy it very much."

The audience reacted very warmly to the Chinese band, clapping along to the rhythm.

"We want to bring the Mongolian culture to a broader stage," said the band's lead musician, Narisu, adding that they played the ethnic Mongolian music in a modern style.

Wednesday's performance in London is part of a 25-show tour across the United Kingdom, Narisu said. They are expected to kick off performance in Denmark in July.

The band is considered one of the most successful Chinese ethnic minority bands to have reached the world stage. They have toured the United States seven times and the United Kingdom three times, playing more than 400 shows.

The band won a national music competition hosted by state broadcaster China Central Television in 2006. They later met a British musician who helped launch their first overseas tour in 2008.

Narisu attributed their success to the broadness and extensiveness of Mongolian music.

In September 2016, the major British newspaper, The Guardian, wrote an article on Anda Union, saying the music had "an emotional, melodic style that has the same universal appeal as great Celtic music."

The title song, "Jangar", on the album "Homeland", reflects a yearning for the grasslands and is inspired by a Mongolian epic. The song was written by the band's morin khuur player and khoomei singer, Urgen.

Homeland was produced by Grammy award-winning recording engineer Richard King and the album was featured in Songlines Magazine in 2016.

"I think our music plays a role of bridging the gap between the East and West," Narisu said. "Our music sheds light on the beauty and the spirit of the ethnic Mongolian people in China."

"We don't stray from Mongolian traditions, and we love singing the folk songs that have been passed down from generation to generation over the past hundreds, maybe even thousands of years," he added.