Hanggai at the Ordway (April 2016)
Tuesday, April 5, 2016, Equity Alliance MN Afterschool Programs attended Hanggai at the Ordway Theater. Groups that attended were Synergy: Heritage Middle School, Parkview Center School, and Forest Lake High School and Equity Alliance MN’s Youth Executive Board. The Equity Alliance MN Afterschool Program group had an exclusive opportunity to participate in a “talk back” with three of the members of Hanggai.
Hanggai (杭盖乐队) is a Chinese folk music group. From Beijing and Inner Mongolia, the band specializes in a mixture of Mongolian folk music and modern musical styles. All of the lyrics in Mongolian use a distinctive vocal technique of khoomei, or twotone throat singing. Hanggai is a Mongolian word, referring to an unblemished natural landscape, comprised of sprawling grasslands, mountains, rivers, trees, and blue skies.
“When the offer to go to Hanggai was proposed during a Youth Executive Board meeting, I did not know what to expect. I was interested to see the blend of traditional and contemporary music that was described, but I was unsure how it would be done. It was difficult for me to envision such music because I had never heard anything like it before. Once the first song started, I realized that it could be done in a very interesting and pleasing way. I could not stop staring at how the members changed between focusing on the tobshuur and morin khuur (Mongolian instruments) to focusing on the guitar and bass before pulling them all together.”
-- Caitlyn Binman, South St. Paul High School
“Music is really another language that has hidden meanings and can be expressed in a lot of ways. Music can also be the communication about one’s culture. Even though the music is in a different language, the feel that you get from the music is what they want to show about their culture.”
-- Chandra Vang, Park High School
““During the interview I noticed that many of the answers that the members would reply with were related closely to the Mongolian plains and how they began to mix their traditional music and rock and roll to preserve their culture and history. I realized that they took the threat of losing their history and invented a creative way of preserving it. I hope that someday Hmong Americans like me can create something like the Hanggai performers, so that there won’t be a need for Hmong teens who feel disconnected to their culture and history.”
-- Faith Hang, East Ridge High School