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The sound of nature from Inner Mongolian choir

The Monggol Nationality Youth Choir from Inner Mongolia will present two "Happiness and Joy" concerts in Hong Kong next month (January).

Under the baton of conductor Yalun Gerile, dubbed "a sculptor of vocal music", the choir will perform ethnic songs from its rich repertoire with their unique vocal styles known as "Khoomi" and "Long Tune", accompanied by the "horse-head fiddle", a bowed string instrument with a history of more than 1,300 years among the Mongolians.

The concerts will be held at 8pm on Thursday, January 31, at the Theatre, Sheung Wan Civic Centre, and at 8pm on Friday, February 1, at the Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall.

"Khoomi" is a type of consummate polyphonic singing unique to the Mongolian, and belongs to the art of throat singing in which one singer emits two notes simultaneously.

Considered as the soul of Mongolian music, "Long Tune" is philosophical in style, and sung in long, drawn-out sounds evocative of vast, expansive spaces.

The "horse-head fiddle" (matouqin), also called a "chor", is so called because its scroll is invariably carved into the shape of a horse's head. The instrument is the tool for expressing the joys and sorrows, hopes and yearnings of the nomadic tribes living on the vast grasslands, and is considered an instrument that can recreate the harmonious rapport between the people and the land they call home.

Founded in 1987, the Monggol Nationality Youth Choir is the only choral group specialising in a cappella singing on the Mainland. The choir has performed throughout the world, including the Sydney Opera House, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Beijing Concert Hall, the National Concert Hall of Taipei, and the Kennedy Center in New York. It has also toured Spain, Sweden, Austria and Germany and represented China in various competitions and cultural activities, winning many accolades.

Former President Jiang Zemin, after hearing their singing, warmly congratulated the group. Critics have also described the group's choral voice as "ethereal sounds from the grasslands in the far north" who "were able to integrate seamlessly the choral art of the West and the musical style of the Mongolians, ... succeeding in establishing a unique style that reminds one of the expansive grasslands."

"Happiness and Joy" is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Tickets ranging from $100 to $220 are now available at URBTIX outlets. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients may have 50% off (limited quotas for students and CSSA recipients on a first-come, first-served basis). A 10% discount applies to Friends of LCSD performing venues, or combined purchase of tickets to the concert with tickets to another programme, "The Grassland, Our Heaven" A Showcase of Mongolian Folk Dance by the Inner Mongolia Nationality Music and Dance Opera Troupe in March.

For enquiries about the programme, call 2268 7321 or visit . Ticketing enquiries and reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Tickets can also be booked online at .

Ends/Monday, December 24, 2007
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