Judging from the number of tickets that were sold and the surprisingly large audience on the Friday of 20TH September at the Kay Center, there is no doubt that the Anda Union has etched a name in performance arts. The Wind Horse performance that was hosted by the Clarice Smith Center was a 90 minutes musical celebration of a passionate and captivating debut that thoroughly enchanted the expectant audience. The sweeping performance and show of exotic and unique talent was well worth the ticket prices that went at around $28- $35 for senior citizens, subscribers, regulars and UMD staff, faculty and Alumni Association with student gaining entry at $10. Some of the audiences in America are unfamiliar with the ten member band and for Anda Union to be able to accommodate their curiosity and satisfy them with an evident enthusiasm was an accomplishment that drove some of the attendants to their other performances within their ten day tour. It only proves that they were well prepared and set for the ground breaking performance they exhibited (Michael, 2013). It is at the performance that many learnt of the rare talent and ability of the artists to produce simultaneous deep sounds while at the same time playing a host of other instruments.
Some of the pieces that were performed included the “Grasslands Journey”, the “Ten Thousand Galloping Horses, 'The Legend of the Swan Brothers’, 'Give You A Rose', guttural songs of the throat, traditional plucked, wind and percussion instrumentals, the morin khuur, native of the horse-head fiddle and long notes of clear urinduu also known as the long-song. The cultural authenticity of the group was doubled up by their traditional Mongolian clothes (Christie, 2013). Their obsession with horses, which are also totemic animals in their culture, is seen from their fiddles that have artistic curved horse heads. The performance was able to bring to life the audience’s senses as their closing stampede for instance that imitated that of horses painted a vivid picturesque of fleet footed steeds.
The solos by the male and female singers were also some of the surprise performances that left the audience speechless. Their ingenious combination of the solos with an integration of instruments including the rectangular lute, drums, three holed flutes and the Jew’s harp, crowned with larynx growl from overtone singing blended well to produce an artistically augmented musical delivery.
It is clear that what sets them apart is their in-built ability to evoke and imitate the sounds of nature like the sensuous sweeping of the wind over the steppe grasses, the singing of birds, ringing bells and even the galloping horses. Apart from being exotic, they have tunes that are accessible. There were some moments when one of their female singers Saihanniya gave horrendous renditions as she sang a passionate melody carefully nuanced over an overtone of guttural growls (Michael, 2013). It was completed and backed up by the smooth stringing of the fiddle before she was joined by the male singer in a duet that ended in a standing ovation. This was particularly because of the unique way their voices blended well with the males’ vocals ululating and swooping while Saihanniya delicately trilled through the backdrop of vocal drones and instrumentals.
Anda Union has members who are natives of Inner Mongolia and have lived a large part of their lives practicing the Mongolian tradition. It is by no surprise therefore that their music reflects their lifestyle, that of nomadism. The tribes in the region are known to travel over vast plateaus of steppe and grass as they graze their livestock herds of sheep, camels, horses and goats. Their music is unique because of their ability to unearth long forgotten music and twist it around to fit into the contemporary modern day musical works. The group was therefore able to utilize their diverse ethnical backgrounds to serve the audience with music that not only spoke to the heart but was also rich in folk sensations coupled with the unique sounds.
Christy, B. (2013). ED2012 Music Review: Anda Union – The Wind Horse (Anda Union). Retrieved from http://www.threeweeks.co.uk/article/ed2012-music-review-anda-union- the-wind-horse-Anda-union/#sthash.ciD4nfL2.dpuf
Michael, T. (2013). On a Wind Anda Prayer. Retrieved from http://www.broadwaybaby.com/listing.php?id=15034.