Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Hakka culture looks forward to a fruitful future


The 2006 A-ha Hakka Arts Festival aims to showcase the rich diversity of Hakka culture.


Since last weekend, the 2006 A-ha Hakka Arts Festival (2006 a-ha 客家藝術節) organized by the Council for Hakka Affair, Executive Yuan (行政院客家委員會) has been hosting a huge variety of performances to showcase Hakka culture in Taipei, Taichung, Hualien, Pingtung and Kaohsiung. The event promises two-months of festivities in 13 cities and towns featuring 33 performances, including music, theater and dance by over 100 artists and groups from home and abroad.

Tomorrow in Pingtung County, there will be a Hakka glove puppet show by Long Hsing Ger Puppet Theater Troupe (隆興閣掌中劇團), and performances of traditional Hakka pa yin (八音) and mountain songs. According to Hakka music scholar Yang Chih-ming (楊熾明), pa yin is an instrumental, ceremonial music performed at weddings, funerals and temple fairs. Unlike Hakka beiguan (北管), which is influenced by Hoklo (河洛) music, pa yin has its roots in a northern Chinese tradition and its principle instruments include cymbals and suonas.

Hakka mountain songs, which are also an important part of the festival, are the music of the land. These songs, many of which date back over a century, were originally a form of entertainment for tea pickers as they sang the improvised tunes as they worked in the hills. Love and romance are often the subject matter.

"Originally the songs were all vocals without instrumental accompaniment. It was not until about 60 years ago when the tunes descended to the plains that musical instruments were added. That's why older singers still sing without a beat, which takes away the unique charm of the free floating sounds," said Yang, who will offer up fine examples of mountain song favorites at the event. One of the special features of this show will be a performer playing the tzu chiao pan (敲子板), a medley of traditional percussion instruments including a cymbal, big and small gongs, drum and bangzi (梆子).

For your information

What: 2006 A-ha Hakka Arts Festival (2006 a-ha客家藝術節)When and Where: Tomorrow: Traditional Hakka music and glove puppet performances at Luo Family Complex in Chiatung Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣佳冬鄉羅家夥房) at 6:30pm; One Night in Hakka Taipei Concert at Taipei 228 Park (台北市228公園) at 6pm. Sunday: Hakka Theater: The Legend of Luo Fang-po (客家大戲-羅芳伯傳奇) at Fangshan Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Kaohsiung County (高雄縣鳳山市國父紀念館) at 7:30pmFor more information on the ongoing series of programs till the end of next month, visit the event's website at

Switching the mood from the old to the new, a techno/hip-hop/rock concert will be held in the outdoor square of Kaohsiung City Music Hall (高雄市立音樂館) on Dec. 2. Here, young musicians will create crossover fusion tunes that transform the antique into the contemporary.

Take hip-hop outfit Kao Chiu Chin (烤秋勤) for example. The band has made playful experiments on Hoklo and Hakka music in the same manner as Western hip-hop artists sample elements from blues and jazz. And they also came up with a list to compare Hakka and Western music.

According to Fan-chiang Chun-hung (范姜峻宏), a member of the band,"Pa yin is the equivalent of jazz, mountain songs are R&B, beiguan is like heavy metal and nanguan (南管) is more symphonic."

Speaking of the marriage of the West and the East, environmentalist musician Matthew Lien will perform mountain songs together with Hakka musician Hsieh Yu-wei (謝宇威) at Taipei's 228 Peace Park tomorrow night at 6pm, while international violinist Lin Cho-laing (林昭亮) will team up with the New York-based International Sejong Soloists, a string ensemble comprised of 14 leading young soloists of different nationalities to introduce a classical version of Hakka mountain favorites, along with a performance of Argentinean tango master Astor Piazzolla's Les 4 saisons de Buenos Aires and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.

The ensemble will perform three separate concerts at Taichung's Chunghsing Hall (台中中興堂), Tainan's Municipal Cultural Center (台南市立文化中心) and the National Concert Hall, Taipei (台北國家音樂廳) on Nov. 26, Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 respectively.

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