Various Artists – Men of Dharamsala (Yarlung Records YAR70902, 2015)
Men of Dharamsala is a fascinating project in support of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. Even though Dharamsala is located in northern india, it is the home of a large Tibetan exile community.
The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) was established by the Dalai Lama in 1959. Since then the TIPA and its musicians have labored to keep Tibetan performing arts alive.
The project was carried out by an American production crew consisting of associate producer and Tibetan opera singer Tsering Lodoe, executive producer Randy Bellous, assistant producer Jacob Horowitz, mastering engineer Steve Hoffman and their Tibetan friends Tenzin Sangpo, Rinchen Lhamo and Dhondup Namgyal.
The production team recorded Men of Dharamsala in the auditorium at TIPA in McLeod Ganj, above Dharamsala. Tibetan culture was represented by Tibetan opera, dance and folk music, nomad songs from the Tibetan plateau sung in Amdo, and mesmerizing pujas (prayers) from the Nechung Monastery featuring wind instruments, human skull rattles and Tibetan long horns.
The album begins with Chinbep Puja (Blessing of the Environment) by the monks of Nechung Monastery.
Track 2, “Great Eastern Sun”, is a Tibetan nomad song in Amdo by Toenpa Kyap.
Track 3, “Gyalue Namthar & Ringa” is a stage purification dance by Penpa Tsering, Sharab Wangmo and a chorus of dakinis.
On track 4, titled “Rangyul Rangla Mayna”, guitarist and vocalist Jamyang Choeden performs a modern folk song.
Track 5, “Rime Soldep” (Four Lineages Puja) is a prayer by the monks of Nechung Monastery.
Tibetan opera appears on track 6, “Nangsa Woebum” performed by Penpa Tsering.
Track 7, titled “Zandang Palri” features the monks of Nechung Monastery.
“Ayr-sha”, track 8, is a folk song about a majestic mountain pass, performd by Tsering Lodoe.
Track 9 presents “Drelkar,” a well-known spoken performance by Penpa Tsering.
The monks of Nechung Monastery deliver “Losar Puja”, a prayer for the New Year on track 10.
Track 11 is a deghtful Amdo folk song with a galloping rhythm titled “Homage to the Lama” performed by Toenpa Kyap on vocals and guitar and Tsering Lodoe on damyin (Tibetan lute).
On track 12, Tibetan opera returns with a white mask dance called “Tashi Shoelpa” featuring members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
Tsering Lodoe sings in the next three tracks, “Dopoe Namthar” from the opera Drowa Sangmo, “Norsang Yab Ki Namthar” from the opera Prince Norsang and “Gyalue Namthar”, a stage purification dance.
Track 16 is a refuge puja titkled “Gyun, Chak Sumpa” by the monks of Nechung Monastery.
“Amdo Glory”, track 17 is another Tibetan nomad song by Toenpa Kyap.
The album closes with the spectacular sound of the Tibetan long horns played by the monks of Nechung Monastery.
This wonderful production received support from Stratton-Petit Foundation, Nechung Monastery, Jacques Farasat and Lynne & Tom Tillack.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart.
Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, and Music of the World.