Chorus of Life: Miao villagers' choir wows global audiences
By Meng Qingsheng
Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Chorus was officially established in 2002 in the mountains of Fumin County, southwest China's Yunnan Province. The amateur four-part choir has 60 members, aged 16-50.
Most of the villagers in Xiaoshuijing are of the Miao people, with some 80 percent Christians. Back in 1937, Arthur Guy Nicholls (1879-1956), an Australian medical missionary of British nationality, came to the village to promote Christianity. He found that the local Miao people's style of group singing a natural fit for a choir and taught them to sing. The tradition has been passed down for generations.
Long Guangyuan is a 4th-generation conductor of the choir. He said young people in the village start to learn choir singing at about 15 years old. They practice every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the evenings and sing at the local church every weekend.
The choir made its public debut at a regional chorus festival in 2003. Their bel canto skills stunned the audience and won them their first gold medal. Among numerous awards are first prizes in the inaugural China Western Choral Festival, the First Yunnan Nie Er Music Week, and the First National Farmers' Chorus Festival in Guangzhou.
Since its establishment in 2002, the choir has toured throughout China and has collaborated with international ensembles, including the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018, it was invited to perform at Lincoln Center in New York also appeared in the UK, singing classic Chinese folk songs and world masterpieces.