Inner Mongolian band brings traditional folk music to global stage

Updated 2017-08-10 17:03:04 Xinhua
Anda Union, a band from north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Photo/

Anda Union, a band from north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Photo/

More than 10,000 km from the grasslands of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, nine young Chinese musicians sing about their happy, carefree lives at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Anda Union is made up of seven men and two women, all from Mongolian ethnic minority. The band is considered one of the most successful Chinese ethnic minority bands to have gone global.

"We want to bring the Mongolian culture to a broader stage," said the band's lead Narisu.

Anda, which means sworn brothers in the Mongolian language, was formed in 2003. There are two singers, Qeqegma and Bilgbagatur, while the other members play traditional Mongolian instruments, including the horse-head fiddle, flute and a three-stringed instrument called Sanxian. Their music also contains a unique style of throat singing.

All of the members were born in the 1980s and were students at Inner Mongolia Arts University, before being accepted by the Inner Mongolia Opera and Dance Drama Theater.

In 2001, they started performing together as a group, and two years later, they all resigned from the theater to focus on Anda Union.

The band won a national music competition hosted by state broadcaster China Central Television in 2006. They later met a British musician, who helped launch their first overseas tour in 2008.

Narisu said that many people worldwide enjoy the traditional style of folk music from Inner Mongolia.

"We play Mongolian folk music in a modern style," he said. "Our biggest wish is for Mongolian music to go global."

"Media outlets call us the 'Anda Union Phenomenon,' and I think our success comes from modernizing and globalizing our music," Narisu said. "We don't stray from Mongolian traditions, and love singing the folk songs that that been passed down the generations for hundreds, or even thousands of years."

The band now spends half of their time touring overseas. They have toured the United States seven times and United Kingdom three times, playing more than 400 shows. Their second album, titled "Homeland," was produced by grammy award-winning recording engineer Richard King. The album was featured by Songlines Magazine in 2016.

Narisu attributes their success to the broadness and extensiveness of Mongolian music.

"Via music we inherit the treasures and artistic resources of our ancestors," he said. "In our music, you hear Mongolian epics, the melodies of the horse-head fiddle and the mystery of throat singing."

"Music bridges the divide between east and west," Narisu said. "Our music explains the beauty and the spirit of the Mongolian people."

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