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The Living Blessings of Lo


Lung-Ta (The Windhorse)

Calling of the Dieties, Part I (Wrathful)
I.  Manjusri (Wisdom)
Calling of the Dieties, Part II (Peaceful)
II.  Avolokiteshvara (Compassion)
Calling of the Dieties, Part III (Tibetan Orchestra)
III. Vajrapani (Action)
Epilogue (A Prayer for World Peace by Tenzin Sangbo Bista)

The music for Lung-Ta (The Windhorse) is inspired by the breath-taking expanse of ancient, windy, raw high bone and coral shades of mountain landscape in the shadow of the Himalayas - Lo Monthang in northern Nepal, the powerful and resonant sounds of Tibetan Buddhist ritual music, and the deeply rich and spiritual life of the people there in this remote kingdom, one of the last remaining enclaves of pure Tibetan culture. The work is scored for nine musicians, each playing their own instrument plus Tibetan Buddhist instruments brought back from the trek; it also uses field recordings that I made on horseback, the chanting of the monks in both Tibetan Buddhist and Bon Po ceremonies in Upper Mustang, and the folk music of Tashi Tsering, the royal court singer of Lo Monthang.

The trek with painter Maureen Drdak, anthropologist Dr. Sienna Craig and her young daughter, Aida, into the restricted area of Upper Mustang became the window into this vast sound world. The piece takes its form from Maureen's 3 dynamic paintings, each representing one of the 3 protector deities of the Rigsum Gompo, structures found near the entrances of the villages in the high mountains. The 3 movements are informed by: Manjusri, Avolokiteshvara and Vajrapani, representing Wisdom, Compassion and Action, respectively. The music incorporates fragments of the melodies that were sung to me by Tashi Tsering, and composed with elements of heterophony (I), monophony (II) and polyphony (III).  Interspersed sections of “calling” the dieties employ ornaments, rhythms and pitched fragments from traditional Tibetan Buddhist chant and instrumental ritual music. Lung-Ta is also influenced by the prana threads in Maureen’s paintings: meridians that energetically run through the body to create universal connection. The musical representation of the prana threads can be heard as a C#/Db tone that continually dances through all of the instruments, even voices; it is ever present in Lung-ta, but is always shifting and morphing, like the clouds. The prana threads can be heard by single instruments or as a moving wave of sound with ornamental figures and microtonal undulations.

A Prayer for World Peace was written for us by Tenzin Sangbo Bista, senior Buddhist monk of Lo Monthang’s Choede Monastery and founder of the Lo Kunphen (Tibetan Medicine) School. The prayer is not sung, but rather unfolds through the trajectory of Lung-Ta, working its way from the gathering of wisdom to the all- encompassing connection of compassion into the manifestation of global action for positive change. At the conclusion of the work, there will be a recording of Tenzin Bista reciting his prayer in Tibetan.  It is very special to us that Tenzin has traveled from Nepal to be with us for both the benefit event held recently for his school, and for the premiere of “Lung-Ta”.

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