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Apr 19 2024

‘The Living Legacy Project – Akha Oral Tradition School’ Imparting Ancestral Songs, Stories, and Ceremonies to Akha Youth


World Music Center Distinguished Scholar Series

Lecture by Victoria Vorreiter
Director, Songs of Memory Project
Executive Director, Cultural Crossroads Asia

Cultural Crossroads Asia (CCA), an initiative founded by Victoria Vorreiter, aspires to preserve the tangible culture of ethnic groups of the Golden Triangle through the CCA Museum in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and to sustain their Intangible heritage through the Living Legacy Project, educational programs in mountain villages.

In 2023, CCA launched its first Living Legacy Project: the Akha Oral Tradition School, a year-long course in Ban Saen Suk, an Akha village in the mountains of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Each week master Akha musicians teach Akha youth age-old songs, instruments, stories, and instrumental craftsmanship so they can reconnect with their Akha heritage and maintain the unbroken chain of ancestral wisdom for future generations.

Additionally, CCA is collaborating with filmmakers to create: 1) short films of our master Akha musicians performing/describing Akha repertoire, and crafting instruments; and 2) a documentary about the Akha oral tradition experience, which follows the students’ growing awareness and skills. These films will be featured online to reach Akha throughout the diaspora as well as an international audience.

Victoria Vorreiter has led her life in search of the heart's response to melody and rhythm. Trained as a classical violinist at the University of Michigan and DePaul University, Victoria performed professionally in orchestras, while also specializing in the Suzuki Method, inspiring children to learn music through the Mother Tongue principle, ‘oral tradition.’ This led to teaching positions in England, France, and the US, and speaking/teaching engagements around the world. Victoria then turned to documenting world music. After her first film, The Music of Morocco and the Cycles of Life, in 2002, she moved to SE Asia to document the ancestral music of ethnic groups in remote mountain villages in Laos, Myanmar, China, and Thailand. The Songs of Memory Project arose from her two decades of archival work: a sweeping collection of books, photos, films, recordings, and multi-media exhibitions. The ‘Songs’ vision has now evolved into Cultural Crossroads Asia, a dynamic initiative composed of the CCA Museum in Chiang Mai to preserve ancestral traditions of the Golden Triangle, and the Living Legacy Project in the villages to sustain them. (See also www.TribalMusicAsia.com)

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