AnDa Union bringing music of Mongolia to the Michigan Theater
“I hopped a train and spent about a week with them. I recorded their music, and got them tours of the U.S.,” said Pearce, who is traveling with the group. He also made a documentary film about them this year, “AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City” which UMS screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
“AnDa” means blood-brother or blood-sister, and it implies a chosen relationship stronger even than that of siblings by birth. A number of the group’s members actually knew each other and played together from adolescence; they met the rest of their blood-brothers and -sisters when they went to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (of China) to study music. The group formed in 2000. What makes the group unusual, beyond its mission, is its membership combines the traditions of many different tribes and peoples within Mongolia. For example, said Pearce, one of the singers is a Buriat, a people from the Northeastern corner of Mongolia, near the Russian border. “Each area has different customs,” said Pearce, “and it’s quite interesting to hear their different musical styles.” Another innovation of the group is simple its nature as an ensemble. Far more common, in home settings, said Pearce, is one person playing, say, the horsehead fiddle and another singing. “They combine the instruments into an orchestra,” he said. They also, he added, are expert at transferring their native musics from yurt to stage. “To take that to a theater and put that over to an audience, that’s what they’re really good at,” he said.
Visit ums.org for a complete list of related events. Most directly connected is a screening of Spohie Lascelles and Tim Pearce’s documentary, “AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City,” at the U-M Museum of Art, Tuesday, 7 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.