Tibetan muscian Techung will be playing traditional Tibetan music at SUNY Plattsburgh March 7 at the E. Glenn Glitz Auditorium.
On the Himalayan Mountains, the sound from a Dranyen, a traditional Himalayan lute, fills the air as it’s strummed by a Tibetan folk singer and songwriter known as Techung.
“What’s unique about Tibetan music is that we are a sound that is very close to the mountains,” Techung said. “Our songs are always in tune with the natural world.”
Techung, also known as Tashi Dhondup Sharzur, will be sharing his knowledge of Tibetan music by visiting multiple classes, teaching a workshop and performing a concert at SUNY Plattsburgh early this March before going to New York City to finish his New York tour.
Originally, Techung didn’t plan to stop at SUNY Plattsburgh during his tour until Tenzin and Yangchen Dorjee, owners of the Himalayan restaurant in Plattsburgh, asked Techung to stop by.
“Since he was coming all the way to New York City, I said ‘why not take a chance to invite him to the university,” Yangchen Dorjee said. “We’ve been doing all of these Tibetan things, bringing Tibetan culture, traditions, music into the community and here in Plattsburgh, and I thought, ‘okay, now this time we’ll bring the music’.”
Techung, who will be staying at the Himalayan restaurant for his visit, will be on campus from March 4 to March 7. The highlight of this campus tour is the concert March 7 in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall at 7:30 p.m., which is sponsored by the SUNY Plattsburgh Departments of Music, Anthropology and Education, along with Club Asia, Anthropology Club, Asian Studies Committee, the Student Association through the Campus Arts Council and the College Auxiliary Services.
The concert will feature him and band members, Kito Rodriguez, Sherap Wangmo, Rinzing Wangyal and a substitute for Michel Tyabji, playing traditional pieces, freedom songs and songs about gratitude.
“Part of the reason he performs is to promote traditional Tibetan music, which he feels is in danger,” said Amy Mountcastle, associate professor of Anthropology. “He is trying to inspire a revitalized interest in Tibetan music and also bring it to the rest of the world.”
“For people to experience these things live, I think really matters because you’ll see how their interacting on the stage, and they’re making the music right then in the moment,” said Bill Pfaff, associate professor of theory, history and composition. “If you go and unveil yourself to a concert experience, you are involved with them in making that exchange.
“The expressive qualities of it are remarkable.”
If people aren’t able to attend the concert, on March 7 a workshop will take place in Krinovitz Recital Hall in Hawkins Hall from 5 to 8 p.m. where Techung will introduce traditional Tibetan songs, dances and instruments, such as the Dranyen and the Piwang, an Asian violin, to students and community members.
Also, Techung will be visiting classes such as Mountcastle’s class Tibet in the Himalaya’s from 2 to 3:15 p.m. in Redcay 105 March 4 and Pfaff’s classes Music History from 2 to 3:15 in Myers 112 and Music Technology from 5 to 6:15 in Myers 116. Students from other classes are welcomed to join.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to learn, myself, about the different aspects of Techung’s art and to bring the students into it,” Pfaff said. “It is a wonderful thing because they have the opportunity to really meet and ask questions of someone who’s upbringing and cultural experience is just so potentially different than what they’ve been exposed to.”
After his stop at Plattsburgh, Techung and his band will continue their tour to Carnegie Hall in New York City March 11, where they will perform alongside Philip Glass, Iggy Pop and others, leaving New York with a different taste of culture.
“We are living in a world of different cultures,” Techung said. “Sometimes people have to travel outside to experience the culture of music, and I feel like I can bring a little of Tibet music to the community.”
If anyone would like to attend the concert, tickets cost $10 for general admission, $5 for seniors and free for students. Tickets are available at the Angell College Center and in advance at the Himalayan restaurant. If anyone would like to know more about the concert or other events, contact Mountcastle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is an opportunity without leaving the campus to be able to have a multicultural experience, to have a crosscultural kind of interaction,” Mountcastle said. “It’s really a great opportunity to have him up here.”