Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The great mandala


My photo shows a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala at the recent Free Tibet event which we attended in Malaucène, France (poster below). Buddhist monks and nuns have fought for human rights in Tibet since the Chinese invasion in 1950, and today are demonstrating against the military junta in Burma. Our thoughts are with them, here is a playlist for this disturbing time:

* Le Boudha de la Compassion from La Montagne de la Grande Pureté played by Alain Kremski on sacred percussion instruments collected from Tibet, Burma, Nepal, India and China. Composer Alain Kremski (below) studied with Darius Milhaud and has been influenced by Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. Kremski is best known for his percussion works, but is also a noted pianist who has transcribed the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony for piano, has recorded the piano music of G.I. Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, and orchestrated Gurdjieff's sacred dances for Peter Brook's 1979 film, Meetings with Remarkable Men. La Montagne de la Grande Pureté is typical of Kremski's eclectic style, 65 minutes of Eastern influenced percussion compositions are followed by a Siloti transcription for piano of a Bach prelude. Do check out Alain Kremski's website. CDs can be bought direct from it, but La Montagne de la Grande Pureté sadly isn't among them.

* The Great Mandala from Songs of Conscience & Concern by Peter, Paul and Mary. One of the great protest songs. The album title says it all, and a contribution from sales of the CD goes to The Centre for Constitutional Rights. Click here for the lyrics, and read the chorus in the context of today's events in Burma.

* Koan: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion by James Tenney played by Matthias Kaul. Several excellent CDs of contemporary music by James Tenney and others including Morton Feldman and John Cage have been released on the Swiss Hat (now) Art label. The CDs were selling for budget price in France and are highly recommended. I will be playing music by James Tenney on a future Overgrown Path radio programme.


Now go Buddhist with Lou Harrison.
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