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Rapport Series XXIV: Li Chuen Yuan Beiguan Music Troupe

  • Publish Date:2019-12-09
Rapport Series XXIV: Li Chuen Yuan Beiguan Music Troupe

Bicentennial hall stands tribute to continuous nature of Beiguan music

Li Chuen Yuan (梨春園), meaning "Spring Pear Garden," is one of the oldest Beiguan troupes in the nation. Its music hall is also a registered historical building in Changhua County.

Once, there were four major music halls in Changhua: East Gate Ji Yue Shiuan (集樂軒), West Gate Yue Hua Ge (月華閣), South Gate Li Chuen Yuan (梨春園), and North Gate Yi Ru Jai (繹如齋). Li Chuen Yuan was traditionally revered as the oldest of the four, and it is the only music hall that is still active to this day.

Li Chuen Yuan music hall is a single-story building with three connected quarters, and the top of the building's main entrance displays a plaque by late calligraphy master Wang Lang-sheng (王蘭生). The ancient plaque was given to Li Chuen Yuan by the followers of Nanyao Temple (南瑤宮) — Changhua's most established Matsu temple — in 1930, and has since served to document the longevity of the music hall.

The traditional entrance offers intricate wood-carved doors that lead to the main hall dedicated to Xiqin Wangye (西秦王爺), whose deity statue is placed on an incense altar. The walls of the main hall are decorated with well-preserved ink paintings by master Wang that depict plums, orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and elegant figures. A side room is dedicated to an ancestral altar, and the other side room houses the hall's collection of precious music transcripts, musical scores, costumes, instruments, and instructional manuals.

During the Japanese colonial era, the building structure began to tilt due to earthquake damage, therefore the dirt walls were changed to brick walls. In 1982, the building was renovated and notable Changhua native and temple art painter Chen Ying-pai (陳穎派) was hired to decorate and add more paintings to the walls. The full splendor of the hall can be seen on the birthday of Xiqin Wangye (西秦王爺), which falls on June 24 on the lunar calendar, when all members and affiliated artists would gather to perform in celebration.

There is a saying in Changhua that goes, "Changhua goes hand in hand with Li Chuen Yuan (有彰化就有梨春園)," to describe the significant role that Li Chuen Yuan holds in the local community of faith. This cohesiveness is also reflected on the couplet scrolls pasted on its door frame:

"White pear blossoms and red peach blossoms

bloom in March and dance in the wind.

As spring turns to autumn

there will always be string music playing in the air."

(梨白桃花紅三月遍開歌舞地 春來秋去四時不斷管弦聲)

The couplet describes the continuous nature of Beiguan music being passed down through the seasons and generations that come.

Editor’s Note:

"Li Chuen Yuan" is the preferred transliteration by the troupe, and the names of the three other music halls have been translated accordingly to Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II (MPS II) as well.