THE GYUTO MONKS: Tibetan Tantric Choir


With the brutal suppression of Tibet by the Chinese government, in 1959, Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Gyuto Tantric University joined the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, in fleeing their homeland and setting up a government-in-exile in northern India. In 1988, twenty one monks traveled to the United States and used their unique multi-tonal chanting to bring attention to their plight. Under the guidance of ethnomusicologist and Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart, the group recorded an album, Freedom Chants From The Roofs Of The World, at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch Studios in northern California. In addition to several tunes featuring the Gyuto Monks, the album included a musical offering to the group performed by Mickey Hart, Kitaro, Philip Glass and Jerry Garcia. The Gyuto Monks have been chanting in their multi-tonal style since the founding of the Gyuto Tantric University in 1474, two years after Columbus’ discovery of the New World. According to People magazine, “The Gyuto chants are low and gutteral, with each monk capable of singing chords that contain two or three tones, simultaneously”. Four Gyuto Monks — Ngawang Sherab, Thupten Sherab, Sonam and Lobsang Tsultrim — performed and created giant alters of colored butter in Australia in 1998. A meditative cd, The Practice Of Contentment, was released by ABC the same year. — Craig Harris

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