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The Naxi Orchestra

When walking on the ancient streets of Lijiang Old Town, you will undoubtedly hear the wonderful Naxi Ancient Music, the traditional Naxi classical music that is regarded as a 'living fossil of Chinese music.' You will wonder where the melody comes from and who are performing?

While in Lijiang, make sure you catch the incredible Naxi Orchestra, so perfectly fitting the mood of the old town that it's hard to imagine them existing anywhere else. Using antique instruments, the performers are the last musicians in China playing Song tunes derived from the Taoist Dong Jin scriptures. The tradition apparently arrived in Lijiang with Kublai Khan, who donated half of his court orchestra to the town after the Naxi chieftain helped his army cross the Yangtze River, and it remained in vogue here long after being forgotten in the rest of the country. Banned from performing for many years, the orchestra regrouped after the Cultural Revolution under the guidance of Xuan Ke, though the deaths of many older musicians have reduced their repertoire from over 60 to just 23 pieces.

The orchestras are famous for their 'three-olds': first, old men (most of the players are over 70 years old); second, old musical instruments (many are antiques dating back more than 100 years, some of which can not be seen in other places); third, old songs (all are antiquated classical music). Members of the bands are drawn from all kinds of occupations including teachers, artisans, farmers, butchers, clerks, etc. Naxi Ancient Music Bands have been invited to perform in Hong Kong, Great Britain, America, Holland, Belgium and Norway, exercising great influence and gaining attention from all over the world.