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Dong's polyphonic singing a rare treat for HK audiences

Hong Kong music-lovers will have the chance to hear the unique polyphonic chorus singing of the Dong Nationality Folksong Art Troupe of Guizhou on March 12 and 13.

Performances will be staged at 8pm at the Auditorium, Tsuen Wan Town Hall (Friday) and Yuen Long Theatre (Saturday). The shows are part of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's "Chinese Ethnic Music and Dance Series".

With no written lyrics, no precomposed music, no scores and no conductor, this 30-strong choir promises audiences a rare treat.

Having no written language, the Dong people see songs as central to their culture. In Dong society, music is even a means of maintaining moral standards. Everyone loves to sing, and those who develop mastery of their voices, command great respect within the society.

The Dong Nationality Folksong Art Troupe of Guizhou was established in Liping, Guizhou province in 1958 and has toured extensively through China and abroad. The songs of the Dong nationality are known as dongge. In addition to the world-famous polyphonic dage, there are songs for soloists like shange, hege, muye ge , dizi ge and xiaoge; and songs with instrumental accompaniment like pipa songs, ox-bone fiddle songs and narrative songs.

But dage is the Dong Nationality's forte. A dage choir consist of up to hundreds of singers doing different parts - and all without musical accompaniment or a conductor. Since dage is traditionally sung in the drum tower of a Dong stockade, the volume of singing is not important. Rather, it is the sweet, mellow voice and clear pronunciation that count. The style has been likened to chamber music.

Tickets priced at $160, $120 and $80 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients, while Friends of LCSD performing venues receive a 10% discount. Please see the programme leaflets for group and series booking discounts.

For ticketing enquiries and reservations, call 2734 9009; for programme enquiries, call 2268 7321; for credit card telephone bookings, call 2111 5999; for Internet bookings, visit . For more programme details, visit .

Those interested in learning more about Dong culture can visit an exhibition that is organized to link with the performances. "The Artistic Value and Characteristics of the Dong Nationality" is now showing until March 12 at the Foyer, Tsuen Wan Town Hall and March 13 at Yuen Long Theatre. Admission is free.

Also, a free foyer performance will be staged at 6.30pm on March 11 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall. And there will also be a pre-concert talk (in Putonghua) by Concertmaster Yang Zhongfu and members of the troupe at 7.30pm on March 11 at the Lecture Room, Tsuen Wan Town Hall. Admission is free.

The "Chinese Ethnic Music and Dance Series" runs from January to March, and features seven Chinese minority troupes from Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Xinjiang and Guizhou.

Ends/Monday, February 23, 2004
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