Mission and Vision
Reincarnation of Dunhuang and Hong Kong
Dunhuang, once a cosmopolitan city during the Tang Dynasty in ancient China, can be considered a strategic location along the Silk Road. This ancient trade route enabled the cross-pollination of Eastern and Western cultural elements, of religion to folk music and dance.
Similarly, the reunification of Hong Kong with contemporary China in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle, has transformed the former British colony into a melting pot of Chinese and Western cultures and one of the focal points of the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Both the past Dunhuang and the present Hong Kong have been indispensable towards China’s prosperity. The Hong Kong Gaudeamus Dunhuang Ensemble strives to unite the hearts of people through spreading our recreation of Dunhuang music from Hong Kong towards the world.
Revival of the Dunhuang Music
The Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes were carved over a millennium from the Northern Liang Dynasty to the Yuan Dynasty, of which 492 major caves have survived, including more than 240 caves with music-related imagery. More than 4,500 musical instruments are depicted in the murals, including Apsaras—musical spirits of the clouds—and over 500 types of ensembles. They show the religious veneration by playing heavenly tunes of Buddhism music.
Since only written records existed in ancient times, the original playing techniques in Dunhuang music are hard to pin down. Nevertheless, the discoveries of historical relics, and music manuscripts in Dunhuang murals and the Library Cave have provided us with precious glimpses of the music-making in the Tang Dynasty and an invaluable source for research on Chinese music history, including the musical instruments pipa, sheng and guzheng which were used in the Ten Kinds of Music in Tang Dynasty.
Recreation of the Dialogue between Past and Present
To further preserve and revitalize the cultural heritage of Dunhuang music, and to create an immersive experience of viewing Dunhuang murals, the Hong Kong Gaudeamus Dunhuang Ensemble is dedicated to the reproduction and reinterpretation of Dunhuang ancient music and rhyme, combining modern people’s imagination of Dunhuang murals and their understanding of Silk Road culture, in hopes of reshaping and polarizing the extinct Dunhuang music and culture across communities and schools.
There is always a supportive power behind every successful place. Under the dynamic leadership of its directors including Chang Shu-hong, Duan Wen-jie, Fan Jin-shi, Wang Xu-dong and Zhao Sheng-liang, the Dunhuang Research Academy has developed and upheld the “Spirit of Mogao”- the persistence on the devotion to the Desert with bravery. It is similar to the “Spirit of the Lion Rock” that brought Hong Kong from a small fishing port to a cosmopolitan city. With strong sense of dedication to teamwork and vigorous commitment with passion, Hong Kong people strive for excellence.