There is no doubt world-renowned Tibetan singer-songwriter Tenzin Choegyal is a man of passion. It is evident in his music, which draws strongly on his nomadic roots, and his tireless advocacy for freedom in Tibet.
A son of Tibetan nomads, he was forced into exile in India as his family fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He has no memory of his homeland yet he feels a particular connection to the music of the wandering people of the Tibetan plateau.
He has enchanted audiences around the globe with his cantering rhythms, soaring vocals and exquisite flute solos, and on August 6 he is coming to Armidale to perform at The Armidale Playhouse.
Music has been a part of his life since his childhood, growing up in the Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala.
Tenzin fondly recalls his mother's singing as she went about her work and the sound of the flute played by his father, and attributes much of his passion to those early influences.
Dharamsala is where the Dalai Lama actively encourages his people to preserve their culture through language, religion and the arts, and it was there Tenzin first began to explore his musical talents.
In 1997 Tenzin made the journey to Australia to start a new life and now enchants audiencesaround the globe with his cantering rhythms, soaring vocals and exquisite flute solos.
"Coming to Australia opened up so many possibilities for my music" he said. "And I'm super proud to be called a Tibetan-Australian artist".
Tenzin is a master of traditional Tibetan instruments the lingbu (bamboo flute) and the dranyen (three-stringed lute) but is best known for his extraordinary vocal ability and his mastery of droklu, the nomadic songs of his parents.
Now a well-established artist, composer, activist and cultural ambassador Tenzin proudly continues the unbroken nomadic lineage which is central to his musical repertoire.
At the same time, he enjoys experimenting with diverse musical styles both in the studio and on stage, along with an international cast of collaborators including Phillip Glass and Laurie Anderson.
Tenzin's recent album, Songs from the Bardo, is a contemporary interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
"It's a really beautiful ancient text, so Songs from the Bardo is a fusion of ancient wisdom with a very contemporary sound," he said.
This latest version, with US collaborator Laurie Anderson, received a Grammy nomination for Best New Age Album in 2021.
Tenzin is also the first (and possibly only) Tibetan to perform regularly with a string ensemble and continues to break ground with his newest album Yeshi Dolma, the result of more than a decade of collaboration with Camerata, Brisbane's chamber orchestra.
For Tenzin music is life, no matter where he is.
"My music has evolved through my own journey from Tibet to India to Australia and around the world. But wherever I am in the world, my music also connects me to my homeland of Tibet."
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