Discover the soul and story of modern Tibetan music
Saturday 10th September 2016, 3.30pm
King's Place , London
Following his wonderful sold out gig at the Lantern Theatre in Sheffield last November (see review), we are delighted to be able to present Ngawang for a second time in conjunction with King's Place in London as part of their Autumn festival. Ngawang charmed and astonished his Sheffield audience with his gentle humour, his tales of life and the monastery in Tibet, his harrowing escape, and his music - whether accompanying himself on the traditional dramnyen lute or electric mandolin, or perhaps most stunningly when singing acapella. That gig remains one of the most popular of the whole TalkingGigs series.
During this gig you will get the chance to him talk about more about his remarkable story; learn about the instruments that he plays; explore the music, traditions, culture and society in Tibet; hear some truly astonishing music - which is transforming and developing at an astonishing rate; and of course get the chance to ask the questions that interest you.
Ngawang has been performing across Europe for the last decade as a highly sought after singer amongst the Tibetan community in exile, appearing at festivals in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. But last year saw a meteoric rise in his profile when he became the first World Music artist to join the "BBC Introducing" initiative, leading to widespread national press coverage, performances and interviews on numerous radio stations, festival performances (including WOMAD) and an appearance at the O2 in London when the Dalai Lama appeared there on 19 September. Speaking of this, Ngawang said:
“I'm absolutely honoured to be performing at the public talk by his Holiness the Dalai Lama at the 02. His Holiness is an inspiration to millions around the world and has dedicated his life to peace, compassion, freedom and religious harmony.
“When I left my homeland over a decade ago I could never have dreamt my songs would one day be played on BBC Radio 3 or to express my sincere gratitude to his Holiness the Dalai Lama through my music. It is a very magical feeling and I feel very blessed.”
Ngawang comes from long line of famous Nomadic singers in the Amdo region of Tibet – a beautiful but harsh environment known for fine horses and wild grasslands. His family herded Yaks & sheep and taught Ngawang his unique repertoire of mountain songs from an early age while he was carried by day on his mother’s back as she tended their herds. Each evening Ngawang’s musical education would continue further when his family would sit & share stories about noble Tibetan folk heroes defeating cruel Warlords and sing songs in praise of the snow mountains - after which his brothers would instruct him in the ancient art of the Dramnyen six-string lute.
He was recently featured in a piece by Robin Denselow in Songlines magazine (issue #111) which explored his early years in Tibet, his journey to the UK and the remarkable transformation in his musical career over the past 12 months. In accordance with Tibetan tradition, being the youngest son, Ngawang joined Achok Gonpa Monastery and became a Monk when he was 14 years old, studying the teachings of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) Buddhism for five years. The article relates that while studying there he realised that “music is part of my life” and that he continued to play the mandolin in secret “without the discipline masters knowing about it.” He eventually left the monastery because Chinese government restrictions meant there was “no religious freedom in the monastery” but, returning to his family to perform as a musician, he found that there was also no artistic freedom either. His escape was dramatic, trekking for 18 days across the Himalayas, he reached Nepal and finally settled in the UK in 2004.
This is definitely a gig not to be missed!