Rich 14-Voice Chorus Makes U.S. Debut in Houston
HOUSTON, June 27, 2013 — Asia Society Texas Center in association with the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival presented The Dimen Dong Folk Chorus in the Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater. The Dong Folk Chorus featured seven local children and youth (ages 8 – 15) and seven young adult singers performing Dong folk music in both solo and choral genres, covering a wider range of subject matter, from children’s songs to drinking songs. The music showcased choral da ge (big songs), solo pipa ballads, ritual courtship, and solemn historical narratives. This music tradition grew from a pre-literate society where every aspect of life was expressed in vocal narratives.
The concerts at Asia Society Texas Center marked the first stop of the group’s U.S. tour, which includes performances at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Dong people, one of China’s 55 acknowledged minorities, number nearly 2.63 million in southwest China, with more than a million living in Guizhou province alone. The culture dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.). The Dimen village (2,300 pop.) is located in Maogong Township in Liping County, Guizhou Province, and was featured in a significant National Geographic article in 2008. A pre-performance discussion led by Ren Hexin, Director, Dimen Dong Culture Eco-Museum and Joanna Lee, Musicologist and Co-Founder, Western China Cultural Ecology Research Workshop, in The Edward Rudge Allen III Education Center gave the audience a historical and cultural glimpse into the Dong culture along with a visual tour.