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Li Chuen Yuan Beiguan Music Troupe

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

  • Name: 梨春園北管樂團
  • Year of Establishment: 1811
  • Did You Know That …?
  • There is a saying that goes, "Right or wrong, let us go to 'Big Matsu Hall' to reason (有理無理,相偕來去大媽館講理)." "Big Matsu Hall" is a nickname for Li Chuen Yuan because it is the designated music troupe to accompany the main Matsu statue of Nanyao Temple (南瑤宮) during the goddess' grand pilgrimage procession. This saying not only signifies that Li Chuen Yuan is the regional leader of all Begiuan music troupes, but also how its music hall serves as a gathering place for local musicians, intellectuals, and authority figures of the community. 

According to local records, Li Chuen Yuan was established in 1811 and has always been the leading music troupe of the Nanyao Temple (南瑤宮) Matsu pilgrimage festival, an honor that signifies its longstanding importance to the local community of faith. Li Chuen Yuan leads the procession with Beiguan music (北管), a clear and lively style well-suited for temple festivals, celebrations, weddings, and funerals.

Beiguan (also known as Pak-koán) music was introduced to Taiwan during the eighteenth century and spread in popularity throughout Taiwan until the end of the 1960s. Beiguan music circles once included amateur clubs called tsú-tē (子弟) and professional troupes that practice a broad scope of percussion and wind ensemble music, silk and bamboo ensemble music, theater music, and refined songs sung with little musical accompaniment.

Early Taiwanese hand-puppet theater (布袋戲), stringed-puppet theater (傀儡戲), ritual music (道士音樂), and Taiwanese opera (歌仔戲) all used Beiguan music as accompaniments, making it one of the most important background music on public stages and temple festivals. The language used to perform Beiguan theater music and refined songs is a unique combination of both Mandarin and Taiwanese.

In 2009, the Bureau of Cultural Heritage recognized Li Chuen Yuan as an important preservation group for the traditional arts and encouraged the troupe's preservation and promotion of Beiguan music. In 2012, the Ministry of Culture bestowed the National Cultural Heritage Preservation Award to Li Chuen Yuan for its preservation of this intangible cultural tradition.

Li Chuen Yuan maintains a large and comprehensive collection of precious music transcripts and manuscripts. These 200-plus instructional manuals, musical scores, records, and costumes are fully preserved and include tracks that have never been seen by other Beiguan music halls.

Traditional Taiwanese music is a combination of cultural and folk beliefs that are interwoven into societal relationships and everyday lives. Every June 24 on the lunar calendar is celebrated as the birthday of Xiqin Wangye (西秦王爺), and all the Xiqin Wangye temples around Taiwan will hold grand street processions and festivities to show their respect. Every year since 2013, Li Chuen Yuan would lead one of the largest temple processions and performance rites for Xiqin Wangye in central Taiwan.

During the festival, Li Chuen Yuan would perform the unique Beiguan tune "Lo-Yang Song (洛陽歌)" to accompany the ceremonies. The song fully highlights the splendor of Beiguan music and showcases the traditional rituals and music heritage of this bicentennial troupe.

Together with other Changhua-based Beiguan music groups, Li Chuen Yuan has been actively participating in folk celebrations, nationwide performances, and lectures to increase the visibility of this traditional art. Having also organized many Beiguan music workshops to teach youngsters and recruit new members, Li Chuen Yuan shall continue to promote Beiguan music to revitalize the public's love for traditional music.