Thursday, August 29, 2013

Strong enthusiasm for Smiles of the Buddha


In 1967 Nobel Laureate Martin Luther King Jr nominated the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh (b.1926) for the Nobel Peace Prize. The photo above shows laureate and nominee together and the text of Martin Luther King's nomination letter - which should be compulsory reading for those currently contemplating Western military intervention in Syria - is here. In 2001 the Vietnamese composer Ton-That Tiêt (b. 1933) wrote his setting for chamber choir of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty titled Smiles of the Buddha (Les Sourires de Bouddha). Jonathan Harvey's belief that strong enthusiasm will change the world prompts me to share this little-known but masterly contemporary choral work with you. Although Ton-That Tiêt's music is influenced by Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism there are no New Age indulgences, and, as described in an earlier post, the Vietnames composer's music has bracing hints of Penderecki, Ligeti and Stimmung. Unfortunately Smiles of the Buddha is a very well kept secret and I cannot find any samples to share on YouTube and the other usual sources. But do not take my word, seek out the difficult to find but excellent 20 minute extended play CD on the Editions Hortus label.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. Les Sourires de Bouddha was suppled as a requested review sample. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

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