Composer Andrea Clearfield on Tibetan culture and music preservation

Andrea Clearfield, composer of Lung-Ta, The Wind Horse (Midwest Premiere, May 5 at Rockefeller Chapel) sends the following link:

The amazing NOVA special “Lost Treasures of Tibet” on the art Lo Monthang in Upper Mustang, Nepal has been made public on YouTube.  If any of you want to go more deeply into why Lo Monthang is one of the last remaining enclaves of pure Tibetan culture, and why the preservation of their sacred art (and music) has become so important to the world, please watch:

It is a fascinating movie; the footage is magnificent and you will “meet” John Sanday who was responsible for my introduction to Tashi Tsering on my first trek to Lo Monthang in 2008 with anthropologist Sienna Craig and artist Maureen Drdak.  Tashi Tsering, the aging royal court singer, is the last of a lineage of gar-glu (court song) musicians and if he were to pass, all of the songs passed down aurally for generations would be lost. Anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Katey BlumenthalI and I returned to Lo Monthang in 2010 with support from the Rubin Foundation to document Tashi Tsering’s complete repertoire of gar-glu. We recorded over 130 songs and the recordings have been sent back to Lo Monthang for future generations to learn. On both treks, we traveled those same routes (by horse and foot), roped into those caves (terrifying)….and watched the Italian team at work, restoring the magnificent centuries-old frescos in the monasteries of Lo Monthang.

Another film worth watching is:

Mustang: A Kingdom on the Edge – the struggle of the Tibetan people to preserve an ancient culture.

Given current events in Tibet, the increasing number of self-immolation of young monks and the oppression of the Tibetan people, this region in northern Nepal where the people are ethnically Tibetan becomes even more valuable to the world at large. Efforts are now being made to preserve the culture, language, art, music, and religion before things change there as well. And I experienced much changing there, especially during the 2nd trek (Upper Mustang is just a few miles from the Tibetan border). Lung-Ta incorporates some of Tashi Tsering’s melodies, Tibetan ritual music of the region and a prayer that was written for Lung-Ta by a senior monk of Choede Monastery, Tenzin Bista. The performance of Lung-Ta as a prayer for peace is most timely.

Find out more about the midwest premiere of Lung-Ta, The Wind Horse.