Anda Union brings music, culture
of Inner Mongolia to the Northwoods
More than 4,000 Northwoods residents recently experienced a slice of the culture and music of Inner Mongolia as the group Anda Union toured the region, giving a dozen performances at local schools and an assisted living center.
The nine-member ensemble has traveled the world for more than a decade, following the tradition of their nomadic ancestors and bringing to life centuries-old music from their homeland that dates back to the times of Genghis Kahn.
“It’s rare that we in the upper Midwest get the chance to hear live such culturally-rich music from the other side of the world,” said Ken Carlson, senior program director at Arts Midwest World Fest, which partnered with Nicolet College to bring the group to the Northwoods.
“Anyone who sees Anda Union in concert leaves enriched and with a better understanding of the music, people and culture they probably knew little or nothing about previous to the show.”
All of the members are accomplished musicians and have been trained in traditional Mongolian music from a young age. Instruments include traditional pieces such as the horse-head fiddle, or tsuur, the three-holed flute, or maodun chaoer, and Mongolian versions of the dulcimer, zither, lute, and mouth harp.
Concerts contain elements of folk at times and touches of orchestral arrangements at others.
“It’s a musical style all their own and one that is true to their heritage,” Carlson explained. “The way they sing is fascinating. They combine throat singing, where they sing two pitches at the same time, typically a low sound and high whistle, and long-song singing, which involves holding pitches over a period of time.”
Anda Union first toured for Arts Midwest World Fest in 2009.
“They were fantastic then and we jumped at the chance to have them back,” he said.
Local concert stops included Nicolet College, Lakeland Union High School, Lac du Flambeau School, Crandon High School, Tomahawk High School, Rhinelander High School, and the Milestone Senior Center in Rhinelander.
“Seeing musicians like this perform live and interact with members of the audience creates an experience that you just can’t get listening to a recording,” said Jim Nuttall, Nicolet College Theatre director.
The 2015–2017 Arts Midwest World Fest tour is supported by National Endowment for the Arts, 3M Foundation, and Anime Twin Cities. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Heritage Foundation Grants Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation for Anda Union, and the Wisconsin Arts Board.