On Thursday, February 2, Kyaw Kyaw Naing—one of the world’s leading practitioners of Burmese music— performed concerts and presented demonstrations at Milton to students of the Middle and Upper Schools. A percussionist from Myanmar (Burma), Naing plays an instrument known as the patt waing, which is a set of twenty-one drums hanging inside a circular and ornately decorated frame. He is a young master musician with mastery of multiple percussion instruments including tuned drum sets, xylophones, and tuned gong sets. This knowledge and tradition was passed down to Naing from his late father, Chein Tit Tee, one of the most famous masters of his generation.
Naing, born in Burma, first came to the United States by invitation from UCLA. As he explained in an interview for an Asia Society program in New York City, “my intention was to stay [in the United States] for a while and go home. When I was at UCLA, I toured around the museums and the music halls on campus. I was amazed. It was as if Burmese music did not exist. I saw musical instruments of various countries, but not a single Burmese musical instrument. Not even a harp or a xylophone. So I got the idea to introduce Burmese music to America and to do something for people in the Burmese community here. I see that few Americans are familiar with Myanmar or Burmese music, and that is why I have dedicated myself to this.”
Naing’s visit to Milton Academy was part of the Melissa Gold Artist series.