Sound Bites from Micronesia
Church Singing from Kosrae
Kosrae is noted throughout the Pacific for it's church singing. In fact it is said that the only true handicraft produced by the Islanders is their church music. Sunday on Kosrae means going to church. It is frowned upon to perform any type of work, dive, water ski, and even snorkleing is discouraged. Sunday is for church and visiting with friends and family, quiet reflection and relaxation. The dress code for sunday mandates long pants for men, long skirts for women. In the 90 degree heat this can make things uncomfortable.
The island seems to have as many churches as it does vilages, maybe more. We attended a very crowded church on the small island of Lelu, connected to the main island by a causeway. Visitors are encouraged at all the churches, and the minister spoke in English just long enough to welcome the few visitors, before continuing in Kosraean. This low ceilinged church was simply finished in white, with open slatted windows to allow cooling. Naturally the only people in the church without hand fans were the visitors !
Here is an example of the singing of the church choirs. It was recorded with the permission of the church Elder at the entrance to the church, who was himself recording the service.
kosrae_choir_small264K 25 seconds (click to hear)
YAP Traditional Dancers
The girls of the village of Ngariy perform traditional Yapese stick dances for visitor on Saturdays. The better part of the day is spent making leis and the headdresses and armbands the dancer will wear. Visitors sit on an ancient stone platform near where the men of the village are building a new meeting house. The senior girl leads the dancers in repeated call and response verses as the dancing moves from groups of four to the entire group of sixteen dancers. Swirling grass skirts and swinging bamboo poles characterize the steps, as most of the girls continue to chew their bettle nut as they sing.
yap_singer_1_small145K, 20 seconds (Click to Hear)