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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir

By Michael Stone
Published October 16, 2008

Tibetan Chants For World Peace
White Swan Records

Familiarity with Tuvan throat singing or Zen liturgical chanting may help listeners apprehend the primordial vocal resonance of the Tibetan Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir. Yet this is not to equate such diverse traditions, which naturally reflect distinct cultural and historical contexts. The Gyuto monks trace their own origins to Lama Tsongkhapa, who founded the eastern Tibetan Gelugpa lineage of the Dalai Lama. They are now based in the 600-year-old monastery that relocated in Dharamsala, India, when the Dalai Lama fled Chinese rule of Tibet in 1959. An Indian recording carried to the United States and broadcast in northern California in 1969 captured Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s attention, and he quickly brought the monks to the Bay Area to record them. In 2001 Hart invited them into the studio for the fourth time, producing an overdubbed recording whose vocal discipline, spiritual power, and aesthetic beauty are manifest.