Men of Dharmasala was recorded live at the Tibetian Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).
Randy Bellous, executive producer
The first institution that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama created in 1959 while establishing his Tibetan government in exile in India was TIPA, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. We created this album in honor of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday on July 6th, 2015 and to support TIPA and these valiant musicians who struggle to keep Tibetan performing arts alive. The repertoire includes Tibetan opera, dance and folk tunes, nomad songs from the Tibetan plateau sung in Amdo, and special stage purification dances. We recorded this album in the auditorium at TIPA in McLeod Ganj, perched above the Indian hill station of Dharamsala. Monkeys sat on the roof and contributed “percussion” when they felt like it by banging on the roof when they liked something. They were a frustrating if appreciative audience.
Joining TIPA musicians on this album are monks of Nechung Monastery singing special pujas (prayers) unique to this monastery. Nechung Kuten, the Tibetan State Oracle, encouraged this recording and graciously invited us to record these pujas in his Monastery. The album opens with a blessing of the environment recorded in the new Nechung monastery in Dharamsala, a prayer to the four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and a Losar prayer for the New Year. Tibetan wind instruments, human skull rattles and Tibetan long horns accompany them with vigor.
Randy Bellous in not only executive producer of Men of Dharamsala but he and his team at Randy Bellous Productions also filmed recording sessions and subsequent interviews with Sophisticated Lady jazz quartet. Snippets of the interviews can be found here.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to our Associate Producer Tsering Youdon, who helped with logistics in India and worked with us on the music. Tashi Delek! And to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Happy Birthday!