Tibetan monks to perform Saturday in de Jong Concert Hall

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    By CLARENCE TANG

    The Mystical Arts of Tibet, featuring the talents of the world-renowned monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in southern India, will be visiting BYU’s de Jong Concert Hall on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

    “They are doing chants — what they would normally be doing in the monastery,” said Yeshe Phelgey, assistant director of The Mystical Arts of Tibet. “There are dances that would be done in the monastery. There are debates that would be done in the monastery, using words and movement.”

    If it sounds more like they’re bringing their homes, rather than their show to us, that’s not too far from the truth.

    “They really emanate what they have studied all their lives,” said Dianna Eden, tour coordinator. “It just flows from the monks; it’s who they are.”

    On their seventh tour in nine years, The Mystical Arts of Tibet hopes to create an awareness of the threatened Tibetan spiritual culture through their performances.

    “What they do for us is to introduce us to a culture that’s on the brink of extinction and has a wealth of spiritual awareness,” Eden said.

    Thirty-six monks — comprising the board of directors and the representatives of different houses in the monastery — choose the monks who will tour, Phelgey said. Chosen for their performing ability, the nine monks selected for this year’s 13-month tour through the United States are a select few, indeed, considering there are a total of 2500 in the monastery.

    “Nine monks are on this tour. Out of these monks, four of them are born in India, five of them escaped from Tibet,” Phelgey said.

    Escaped?

    “In Tibet, we don’t have freedom to practice religion because of the Chinese government,” Phelgey said.

    The Drepung Loseling Monastery was originally established in Tibet in 1416 for the purpose of furthering the Buddhist heritage, according to a recent news release. Earlier in this century, it was relocated to southern India because of the oppression of the Chinese government. Those who can escape from Tibet still do.

    “My parents escaped for education in 1959. I was born in India in exile,” Phelgey said.

    Don’t mistake his words — he’s not talking about getting a Western education. Phelgey, continuing in his parents’ tradition, is a “Geshe,” a title similar to our “Dr.” It’s somewhat equivalent to holding a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy, according to Phelgey.

    Not only are the monks trained in philosophy, but it also includes instruction in various sacred performing arts, many of which will be demonstrated on Saturday evening.

    One of the most extraordinary of these sacred arts is their multiphonic chanting. Multiphonic chanting consists of each monk singing a bass note so low that higher notes can be heard, although they are not actually sung, according to the news release.

    Everything about their performance is authentic — the instruments, the costumes, the dances and the chanting — and they audience can feel the sincerity in their performance, according to Phelgey.

    Tickets for the performance are available at the Fine Arts Ticket Office in the HFAC, or by calling 378-4322. Admission is $10 for the general public, $9 for seniors, and $8 for students.

    After their stop in Provo, the monks will continue on to Park City, where they will be doing Mandala sand painting through next week. This painting is a delicate, intricate art — a ceremonial and heartfelt offering to the community, according to Eden. The opening ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, the closing ceremonies will be held on October 23 at 10:30 a.m. They will work on the painting daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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