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Mystical Arts of Tibet Is Next Issues & Artists Series Program

Loseling Tibetan monks will perform ancient temple music and dance

September 21, 2006

The Mystical Arts of Tibet’s program of "Sacred Music, Sacred Dance for World Healing" will come to Wilmington College Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m., in the Hugh G. Heiland Theatre.

Robed in magnificent costumes and playing traditional Tibetan instruments, the Loseling monks will perform ancient temple music and dance.

Ancient societies throughout the world conceived that ritual performance of sacred music and dance at auspicious times establishes communication with the higher powers of good and brings about healing on environmental, social and personal levels.

The monks are part of the Drepung Monastery established near Lhasa, Tibet, in 1416 in order to preserve and transmit the ancient Buddhist arts and sciences.

The Loseling or "Hermitage of the Radiant Mind" was the largest order and have close links to the Dalai Lama incarnations. After the communist Chinese government invaded Tibet in 1959 and destroyed the nation’s 6,500 monasteries, some 250 Loseling monks managed to escape the holocaust and rebuild their institution in South India.

Over the years, many more young, spiritual aspirants fled Chinese-occupied Tibet and sought entrance into the monastery, thus helping to preserve their traditional culture. Today the re-established Drepung Loseling Monastery has more than 3,000 monks.

Since 1988, talented groups of monks have taken time off from their life-long devotion to contemplation and study in order to participate in Mystical Arts of Tibet tours. Their purposes include contributing to world peace and healing through sacred art, generating a greater awareness of the endangered Tibetan civilization and raising support for the Tibetan refugee community in India.

To compose a group with requisite skills, the monastery selects at least two monks from a small group of chantmasters. The chantmasters are experts in the form of multiphonic chanting for which Drepung Loseling is renowned. A special emphasis also is placed on selecting monks who are particularly skilled in ritual masked dances, as well as several masters of the art of Mandala sand painting.

Other monks are chosen for the talent in playing traditional Tibetan musical instruments, such as the 10-foot- dung-chen long horns and the gyaling trumpets. Because the group comprises only nine artists, most of the monks on the tour are multi-talented and fill more than one role.

The Loseling monks have represented Tibet’s sacred performing arts at such prestigious venues as New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the United Nations, in addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Cultural Olympiad of Greece and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Their music, which has achieved top-10 listings on New Age music charts, also has been featured on the Golden Globe-nominated soundtrack of "Seven Years in Tibet" starring Brad Pitt and they performed with Philip Glass in the live presentation of his award-winning score from the Martin Scorsese film "Kundun."

The 2006-07 issues & Artists Series will continue Spring 2007 Semester with an appearance by author-photographer Deborah Willis Feb. 8 and Okla-Choctaw American Indian Rainbow Eagle March 22.