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Cultural banquets to increase the visibility of Hakka culture

Cultural banquets to increase the visibility of Hakka culture
For the coming months, the Council for Hakka Affairs will present several cultural banquets. Before we celebrate the New Year, the Hakka Council will have the closing ceremony for the 2005 A-ha Hakka Cultural Festival to be held with spectacular Hakka music concert. Besides, with this November's success of the Hakka Language Certification Examination, the council has decided to hold the 2nd examination next spring. The annual event of Hakka Tung Blossom Festival will again kick off next April 15 and will run to May 14.

The Night of Hakka Symphony

The hottest event during the closing ceremony of the festival is The Night of Hakka Symphony, presented by the globally well-known violinist, Lin Cho-liang, and the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra on December 26 from 7:30 to 9.30 pm at the Taipei National Concert Hall (No.21, Jhongshan S. Rd., Jhongjheng District, Taipei). The Hakka Council has also invited Chen Chien-tai, a famous Taiwanese songwriter in America, to write the Hakka Violin Concerto for the performance. Lin will play a solo and Wang Ya-Hui, an internationally well-known conductor who won the 2001 Sorantin International Young Artists Award and the Mitropoulos Award in Greece, will conduct the orchestra.

The 2005 A-ha Hakka Cultural Festival presented different types of Hakka culture performances, including traditional and modern Hakka music and other melodies that blend elements of Western and Hakka music. Over 100 performing groups with over 1,000 performances together will unfold the beauty of Hakka culture in 25 places around the country.

Lee Yung-te, the Minister of the Council for Hakka Affairs, said: "The objective of the Hakka Cultural Festival is to increase the visibility of Hakka culture." In three years' time, the council has tried to open up more opportunities for Hakka artists.

"A-ha is a profound expression of the Hakka artistic culture; it also gives warmth and assurance to all our compatriots. A-ha not only a Hakka festival but also an art festival for everyone," Lee said.

The protagonist of The Hakka Symphony Night - Lin Cho-liang is a Taiwanese-born Hakka who has the reputation of being Taiwan's Mozart; he is also considered one of Taiwan's best violinists.

The Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, established in 2001 by the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation belongs to the Evergreen Group and is made up of 70 Chinese musicians. While it mainly plays classical music, the orchestra will add new interpretations to Taiwanese folk music and bring it to an international level. The team intends to interlace local and worldwide musical resources, create a brand new musical wonderland and step onto the international stage.

Hakka Language Certification Examination

With the council's first Hakka Language Certification Examination in November garnering an enthusiastic response, second-round exam will be held on March 12, 2006 in four venues around the country. Information on the examination will be available at the Hakka Council, National Central University, Chung Yuan Christian University, the Hakka Council of Kaohsiung City Government, and 39 other locations around the country. People can also register for the examination. The information booklet costs NT$ 50 and the registration fee is NT$ 400 with two books and two CDs for learning the Hakka language.

"It's a free test and we welcome everyone for the examinations regardless of their nationality, race, gender, age or occupational backgrounds," Lee said.

The exam focuses on subjects of real-life situations, including basic, simple and common-used words and phrases. And the content is about traditional culture and modern life. The exam is also weighted according to the Hakka accent in four counties: Hailu, Tapu, Raoping and Shaonan.

"Learn Hakka language, be 'Sha Bi', enrich your life!" Lee said and continued, "as long as test takers practice the materials provided by the council, they would not have to worry too much about the exam," Lee said.

"Language is the 'decoder' for history and culture; we need this decoding device to understand the wisdom and culture of our ancestors. Most importantly, we need everybody, including Hakka and non-Hakka, to get involved," he said.

Hakka Tung Blossom Festival

As Taiwan News reported on October 10, the Council aims at bringing next year's Hakka Tung Blossom Festival to the world. "With the success of last years' Hakka Tung Blossom Festival, we would like to expand the scope of international publicity next year," Lee said.

Tung trees are much related with the life of Hakka people who used to live in mountainous and hilly areas. Hence, products made from tung trees became their sources of income. Through the festival, tung trees again benefit Hakka villages economically.

Next year's festival will be held from April 15 to May 14, with some streets and towns planted with tung flowers. The display of installation arts will use tung flowers, songs, flower design competition, a flower path, Top 100 restaurants, guest houses and Hakka delicacies.