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Lao Music and Culture


Lao Culture, Art, Music, & Dance - Lao Heritage Foundation

The Lao Heritage Foundation (LHF) is based in the Washington, DC area as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity with the mission to preserve and promote Lao culture. We encourage you to sign up for membership to receive the latest news and updates, as well as invitations to events.

Cultural Preservation

LHF provides dance and music instruction primarily to children. Our teachers work with masters in California, Virginia, and Laos in an effort to hone their skills, share ideas, and pass the arts onto the next generation of musicians and dancers.

Two of the last few masters in traditional Lao music are Thongtanh Souvannaphanh and Bounseung Synanohn. As music is traditionally taught by ear, there is no established system of notation. As a result, this art is in grave danger of fading away. As a first step to preserving this art, LHF is notating music of the 'saw' (two-string fiddle) and 'kaen' (bamboo mouth organ, pronounced 'can', and sometimes spelled 'khene') -- currently in the form of tablature and western notation; We are also currently working to produce professional-quality recordings of traditional music by masters Souvannaphanh (saw) and Synanonh (kaen). These steps will not only help to preserve the music, as but also to facilitate the teaching of it. >>more on the saw kaen music program

In fine arts, we partner with Prince Nithakhong Somsanith, who documents and showcases the many treasures of Laos through his uniquely exquisite paintings and the royal art of gold-thread embroidery. >>more

Cultural Promotion

Our cultural promotion events include exhibitions of Prince Nithakong Somsanith's artwork at various art galleries and public venues in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco. We hold cultural events to coincide with important festivals, such as the end of Buddhist lent (Boun Lai Heu Fai/Loy Katong). Our cultural promotion at the World Bank highlighted Laos' ethnic and cultural diversity. These events are as festive as they are educational.

In folklore, we sponsor a very talented artist/animator, Nor Sanavongsay, who works tirelessly to preserve (and promote) Xieng Mieng stories. Xieng Mieng is a witty fable character well-loved by Laotians for many centuries. >>more

LHF collaborates with other organizations whose missions are compatible with that of our own. Such organizations are Puang Champa (a Luang Prabang-based troupe of embroiderers, musicians, dancers, and instrument makers), the Lao American Women Association (LAWA) of Washington D.C., and the Laotian Community Center (LCC) of Rhode Island. We also collaborate with organizations that seek to promote cultures of the world, namely Asia Society, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian American Forum.

How You Can Help

Lao culture is rich in history, tradition, art, and folklore. It is unfortunately in urgent need of preservation. We ask for your generous support by volunteering, making donations, purchasing our merchandise, attending our events, and becoming a member. We invite all to join us in celebrating our heritage. Please email us at info@laoheritagefoundation.org.


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