News :: 2006

Four veteran artistes to tour US

Four veteran traditional Tibetan artistes are touring the US for a month beginning from April performing in six major cities in the US. They have named the group "Nangma" as their music is dedicated to the preservation of Nangma and Thoeshey genres of Tibetan music.

The group consists of Chukie Tethong doing vocals, Tsewang Chondhen doing vocal and instruments, Sonam Paljor and Sonam Tashi (a.k.a. Acho Danny) playing instruments. Dranyen, Piwang Bompa, Piwang Trawa, Bhashey Piwang, Gyumang, Lingbu, Nga and Erka are the names of their instruments.

The group's members are first-generation Tibetans born in exile, who have received trainings directly from great masters of Tibet who fled the Chinese occupation in 1959. They all have been performing in concerts and performances for over thirty years around the world.

"Very few young Tibetans living in exile today have any knowledge about these beautiful musical genres or about their place in our distinctive cultural heritage," says tour director, Acho Danny.

"In Tibet today, people associate the word "Nangma" with a certain nightclub where people drink too much and stay up late," Danny adds.

Both in Tibet and in exile, few Tibetans know that Nangma and Thoeshey form a rich musical tradition that may be traced back to the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama and the emergence of Lhasa as the capital of Tibet.

The Nangma and Thoeshey tradition was loved and patronised by government officials and aristocratic families, which could be identified as an important part of the refined cultural traditions associated with the nobility of Lhasa. The tradition later became popular far and beyond Lhasa.

What is interesting is that the popularity of Nangma and Thoeshey as an evening's entertainment in Lhasa began to give way to the Chinese game of Majong, which began to consume Tibetans' time and money in the first half of the 20th century. Consequently, well before 1950s, Tibetans began to lose touch with this rich part of their musical heritage to a Chinese game.

Elderly Tibetans may tell that Tibetans have countless number of Nangma songs, but in reality, Tibetan musicians are aware of less than thirty!

The group is dedicated to the preservation of this rich and distinctive part of the Tibetan cultural heritage, and hence named their group "Nangma," and intends to promote this tradition to the younger generation Tibetans through concert performances, workshops and lectures on the "Roots and Origins of Tibetan Music and Dance."

They hope that their performances will be able to generate interest among the youth in these traditions.

They will perform every weekend starting April 1 for two hours in Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco CA.


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