The world's first large-scale folk instrumental musical drama staged in Dunhuang

Updated: 2021-09-28

The large-scale folk instrumental musical drama "Xuanzang's Pilgrimage" was staged at the Dunhuang Grand Theater on Sept 23, breaking through the conventional forms of national instrumental music.

Produced by the China National Traditional Orchestra (CNTO) and performed by a national orchestra, the drama tells the historical story of Xuanzang, an envoy of Chinese and Western cultural exchanges.

It was performed during the 5th Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo and the 10th Dunhuang Tour-Silk Road International Tourism Festival.


Featuring comprehensive stage art that integrates different elements, such as literature, music, performance, and stage art, the drama is an innovative combination of music and language, which greatly enrich the performance.

As many as 73 different types of musical instruments are used in the whole performance, falling into four major categories: commonly used musical instruments of ethnic orchestras, restored musical instruments from Dunhuang, traditional musical instruments from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and Indian traditional musical instruments, showing the Han, Uygur, Kazakh, Tajik, and Indian musical culture styles. It also showcases the integrated, diversified, and plentiful cultural characteristics of folk music along the Silk Road.

After the performance, the CNTO gave the props, stage art design, and costumes to Gansu province, allowing the province to perform the drama independently in the future.