Established in 2002 in the mountains of Southern China, Xiaoshuijing Farmers’ Chorus, led by choirmaster Guangyuan Long, comprises 50 farmers of the Miao ethnic minority. No member has ever received any professional vocal training, instead absorbing the Western Baroque and bel canto singing traditions introduced by Christian missionaries in the 1930s by word of mouth over the course of generations.
Based at the Xiaoshuijing village church, the choir has toured throughout China and has collaborated with international ensembles, including the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since its inception, the choir, which performs in ethnic dress indigenous to this part of the Yunnan Province, has received widespread recognition across China. Among its numerous awards are first prizes in the inaugural China Western Choral Festival, First Yunnan Nie Er Music Week, First Kunming Nie Er Cup Chorus Festival, and the National Farmers’ Chorus Festival in Guangzhou.
In 2008 the chorus represented the Yunnan province as the only Miao ensemble in the CCTV Young Singers’ Match; along with a top prize, the chorus received invitations to perform at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Central Conservatory of Music. The chorus has also appeared at UNESCO’s Humanity Photo Awards 2011, the Opening Ceremony of the second Nie Er Music and Chorus Week in Shanghai Grand Theatre, the Beijing Television Spring Festival Gala, the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, the Jianshui Charity Concert, and made two appearances on the popular television show Mamma Mia on Shanghai Dragon TV.
The choir resides in Xiaoshuijing, a small Fumin county village of 158 families. In 2007 Xiaoshuijing was designated the Pilot Village of New Rural Construction in Kunming, aiming to increase agricultural production and improve living standards.
In 2018 the choir will perform internationally for the first time as part of major Chinese New Year celebrations, including concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Royal Festival Hall in London.