Sacred Music for World Healing Returns to Asia Society Texas Center

Multiphonic monks utilize ten-foot-long dung chen horns, drums, bells, cymbals, and gyaling trumpets.
Multiphonic monks utilize ten-foot-long dung chen horns, drums, bells, cymbals, and gyaling trumpets. Photo by Ben Doyle, Runaway Productions LLC
If the music biz is always in search of the next big thing, then why is Neil Diamond suddenly appealing to a whole new generation of listeners with "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show." Sure, Tarantino pointed the way, but it's Diamond's lyrics, emotion and powerful voice that bring all the feels.

Lesson being, reaching back into the musical archives will never fail to surprise and delight, if we just know where to look. The multiphonic singers of southern India's Drepung Loseling Monastery have reached waaaaay back, and will be returning to Asia Society Texas Center to present their ancient temple music and dance with two performances of Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing.

First, there's that whole multiphonic chanting thing, known as zokkay. Each of the main chantmasters can intone three notes simultaneously to individually create a complete chord. The Loseling monks have performed in the past with Paul Simon, Philip Glass, Edie Brickell, Natalie Merchant, Patti Smith, the Beastie Boys and even Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, odd though that pairing may seem.

Second, the monks utilize ancient and traditional Tibetan instruments: ten-foot-long dung chen horns, drums, bells, cymbals, and gyaling trumpets. It's a unique sound that has served them well, with two of their recordings hitting the top ten on the New Age music charts: Tibetan Sacred Temple Music (Shining Star Productions) and Sacred Tibetan Chants (Music and Arts Program of America, Inc.). Hollywood hasn't overlooked the performers either; their music was featured on the soundtrack for Seven Years in Tibet.

In spite of all these accomplishments, as well as selling out Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, it's the "world healing" aspect of their performance that will speak to all of us individually and collectively. One look at the political climate and it's clear that our country is divided and in need of a fix.

The Drepung Loseling Monastery in India provides a sanctuary for the nurturance of inner peace and kindness, community understanding, and global healing. After 9/11, the monks led prayer ceremonies and meditations in both New York and Washington, D.C., dedicating those events to the healing and protection of America.

click to enlarge The concerts include costumes and masked dance. - PHOTO BY KAITLIN ELLISON
The concerts include costumes and masked dance.
Photo by Kaitlin Ellison
Costumes and masked dance, including the Dance of the Sacred Snow Lion, are elements of these concerts. The afternoon matinee is shorter and appropriate for families, while the evening performance is full-length and has sold out the past two years.

Performances are scheduled for August 17 from 2 to 2:45 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713-496-9901 or visit $15 to $45.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney