In many ways, the highlight of our trip last August to Hulunbuir was not the grasslands or the marshes
or the birch trees
or the cows going home at sunset
or the well-maintained Soviet tractor we found in an out-of-the-way village
or the view of Russia from our B-and-B
Rather it was the time we spent with the kids of the Quinquefoil Children's Choir (“五彩呼伦贝尔”儿童合唱团）, first on the set of the movie "37" and then in an Hailar city elementary school (school building financed by 华夏基金会, the Huaxia Foundation).
The movie "37" itself was nothing special, with a storyline reminiscent of singer/star group vehicles, like a Beatles movie or (dare I type it) "Spice World". A Hong Kong businessman came across the first Quinquefoil CD and was willing to finance a movie vehicle for the group. In the movie, the Chinese child actress du jour, Lin Miaoke, had an opportunity to befriend members of an inner Mongolian children's choir, and with the help of various others, managed to keep the choir from going out of business. "37" is the number of children in the choir.
What was most precious was the afternoon we spent with the children at the Hailar city elementary school that served as their base last summer. We listened to the children practice and learn new songs from their music teacher. We helped some of the kids packed up their book bags at the end of the afternoon before they went to the playground to play before dinner and before their summer school lessons in the evening.
So, almost exactly a year later, we jumped at the opportunity of tickets (courtesy of teacher Zhao) to the Quinquefoil concert in Beijing. The children had an appearance at the Expo in Shanghai last week before they came to Beijing for a series of 4 performances at the Century Theatre (世纪剧院）.
The official concert webpage is hosted by sina.
The CCTV news segment.
Videos of the children's choir on youku.
And, finally, the top100.cn page for the choir. But you'll need to scale the Great Fire Wall the other way to be able to download from the google sponsored music download page.
FYI, 五彩，the Chinese name of the choir, means, literally, Five Colors, which stands for the five minority groups from which many of the children came from. The English name of the choir Quinquefoil has been changed to Quintessenso for their latest tour, "My Home on Steppe," with the China Philharmonic. Hailar is the administrative center/city of Hulunbuir, which is a region of Inner Mongolia. The title of this blog, Hulun Buir Fantasy, is the title of the choir's second CD and tour.
Finally, another highlight was the friends (XJ and KS) we made during the trip, but that's a story for another blog...